Photo Timeless page 21
explores its British side >>inside pullout
PERSPECTIVES ON THE STRIKES pp14-15
The Th Beaver Arms holdings ‘grossly misrepresented by director’
10 February 2009 Newspaper of the London School of Economics Students’ Union thebeaveronline.co.uk
LSE accused of excessive scrutiny over room bookings
LSE tracker fund allows investment in arms companies, campaigners say Ali Moussavi & Rajan Patel
Not for Profit protesters delivered a petition to Howard Davies’ (below) office on Monday. Four hundred signatories called for LSE to move away from ‘pro-business’ policies Cherie Leung
Joseph Cotterill LSE director Howard Davies has “grossly misrepresented the facts” in statements on the school’s holdings in arms companies, campus activists against the arms trade have alleged. A spokesperson for the LSE Not For Profit campaign said that Davies had “knowingly represented” the school as not having holdings in arms companies, in a Beaver comment piece three weeks ago. Anti-Gaza war protesters separate from the Not for Profit campaign also demanded during their occupation of the Old Building in the same week that LSE should divest from BAE Systems, a company which manufactures armaments and ammunition. Davies denied in a letter to the occupiers that the School held direct investments in BAE. “Nor do we have any similar investments in any other arms companies,” he said. Davies said in the letter that the School held some endowment money in a tracker fund called Charitrak, in the form of equities “which change from time to time”. In the letter, dated 16 January, Davies
added that Barclays, the fund’s administrator, “have today confirmed that the Charitrak fund does not hold any BAE shares.” Not for Profit activists contend that the Charitrak tracker fund frequently moves money in and out of arms companies as part of daily trading on the markets. “As an ex-chair of the Financial Services Authority, Howard Davies knows that tracker funds invest in many different sectors,” said Michael Deas, a Not for Profit spokesperson. “The director has made it look like we were acting on false information, when we were not,” he added. Deas conceded that the Not for Profit campaign does not have access to information on current holdings in Charitrak. Student campaigners say School officials told them it was “extremely clear” that the school held money in arms companies through the Charitrak fund from time to time, in a meeting held during the occupation. LSE did not respond to the allegations against Davies when approached for comment. “Council has set up a working group to look at various aspects of socially responsible investment policy at the school and the group will report back to council in due course,” a school spokesperson said.
The Not for Profit campaign said that even indirect holdings were unethical. Deas said making a distinction between direct and indirect investment was “little more than rhetorical” and made no difference to the large sums of money the School was placing in the Charitrak fund. “Even one or two per cent of this investment is a lot of money if it goes to arms companies,” Deas said. LSE invested £55 million in Charitrak in the 2008 financial year, up from £37 million in 2006. Equities holdings are popular with charities and universities as stable and diversified sources of income. Barclays Global Investors managed £2.3 billion for 1,700 UK charities in 2007, including Charitrak. King’s College London holds twothirds of its endowment in equities. Much of this is currently invested in the Charitrak fund. Deas said it did not matter that many other institutions besides the LSE placed money in Charitrak.
“Most charities are small and haven’t woken up to this,” he said. Deas added that the School had special responsibilities not to get involved in arms companies. “LSE is supposedly dedicated to the betterment of humanity. It’s slightly hypocritical to set up conflict resolution centres and also fund wars,” he said. The LSE Council has previously considered the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investment as a guideline for LSE’s investment strategy. Council members decided that more research was needed and set up a working group to look at the issue. No date has so far been given for the completion of the group’s work. “We will wait for their findings - that is the process,” the school spokesperson said. Not for Profit activists say they will submit a paper to the School Council in favour of divestment instead. Ethical investment has been a political issue on Houghton Street since 2006. Activists at other universities have campaigned for their institutions to avoid investing in arms companies. Proposals for Cambridge university to divest from arms company holdings were released last week.
Certain groups of LSE academics and students allegedly face extensive scrutiny when attempting to book rooms for proPalestinian events. Several email exchanges between academics and LSE Conferences across 2008 show that certain student and staff groups with room booking rights often have their credentials questioned and cannot book rooms for free. This is done on the grounds that there has been some degree of external involvement in organising events on the topic of Palestine. The students and academics spoke to the Beaver on condition of anonymity. Senior school officials, including Howard Davies’ Director’s Management Team, decide that certain events are not ‘LSE events’ and that LSE staff and students who are organising them should pay to book an LSE room. When one such decision was questioned by academics in an email chain, LSE Director of External Relations Robin Hoggard was unable to define an ‘LSE event’. He said that there are no specific rules which define what constitutes an ‘LSE event’. Hoggard told the academics that they should raise the matter with the LSE’s ProDirectors, Professors George Gaskell, Janet Hartley and Sarah Worthington. He then said: “In the circumstances, however, I would have to question whether it would be worth your while. We don’t have formal written rules on what defines a School event.” In this particularly email exchange, the ultimate reasoning behind the Pro-Directors’ final decision that this was not an LSE event was not explained to the academics. LSE Staff Against the War, an approved staff group, was asked to pay over £2,300 to book rooms for a conference on the plight of Palestinians after the 1948 War. The conference was to include LSE academics as chairs and speakers and was intended “in the first instance for LSE staff, to which all members of the School will be invited, along with interested individuals from outside the School.” Alan Revel of LSE Conferences asked LSE Staff Against the War to give him names of its officers, its number of members and its constitution and terms of reference. Revel claimed that all student societies submit this information to him on an annual basis. Students’ Union Treasurer Wil Barber said: ”Perhaps there is some confusion, the only information we passed on to Conferences is the room booking form for each society”. Revel also told the group that under no circumstances were they to represent the event as being “for or on behalf of the LSE”. The event ultimately did not go ahead. LSE Staff Against the War is an official LSE staff group which exists on a similar basis to a Students’ Union society. Established in 2003, the group has since had room booking rights on LSE for You. They had never faced any such questions when booking rooms in the past. >> Continued on page 4
2 The Beaver | 10 February 2009
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3 10 February 2009 | The Beaver
Bursaries delayed for hundreds of students in loans company error
The Student Services Centre. Photo: Mike Carlson
School organises short-term loans as students await payments Joe Rennison LSE is blaming the Student Loans Company for an error that has left hundreds of students still waiting to receive their financial bursaries. Seven hundred LSE students are awarded bursaries based on their financial situation. The bursaries are paid in instalments at the start of each term by the Student Loans Company. LSE student services only became aware that the second installment had not
yet been paid to students on 5 February. LSE Financial Support Manager Sue Platter said that the Student Loans Company had been at fault and had not notified the financial support office in time. “The process from our end had all gone according to plan, and my colleagues had both followed up on it during January to check that all was well,” Platter said. “It seems that our contacts at the Student Loans Company thought that all was fine, and only realised yesterday [5 February] that the office which carries out this process had run into a problem, which either they did not realise or they did not tell anyone about,” she added.
Jon Nolan, a second-year sociology student still without his bursary, said: “Student services have said it’s entirely a fault with the Student Loans Company, not LSE’s fault. They were told that it would be in tomorrow [6 February], but that’s been put back again and no one has any idea of when it is coming in now.” Amy Noble, a second-year law student affected by the problem, said she had expected to receive her bursary in week one. The situation was “absolutely appalling,” she said. Sakine Koc, a second-year sociology student also waiting for her bursary, said: “LSE has been really helpful itself, it’s just the Student Loans Company that’s the problem.” She continued: “For students from a low income family and who have to live in London, this is a really difficult situation.” Platter said that the school was acting to help affected students. “Even now the
Amy Noble, still waiting for her bursary, called the situation, “absolutely appaling.”
Student Loans Company cannot confirm how many students are affected, but they and we are assuming it is all of them,” she said. We have emailed the students to let them know of the problem, which of course some of them had spotted,” Platter added. The new projected date for bursary payments to arrive in students’ accounts was 18 February, she said. Student services are offering shortterm loans to students in financial difficulty. The Accommodation Office confirmed that they will grant extensions for rent payments from affected students. Koc, who works in the Students’ Union’s advice and counseling centre, added that the loans take at least a week to process. “If someone needs an emergency loan it’ll take them at least a week to get it,” she said. The Student Loans Company declined to comment on the issue.
NAB energy efficiency faces teething problems Katherine Ripullone The New Academic Building recently received the lowest government energy rating of G despite it being awarded a design rating of “excellent” by the independent BRE environmental assessment method (BREEAM) awards. The low government rating is reportedly used until a year’s worth of data has been collected, after which point, the data will be assessed and the official rating specified by the School. The rating is calculated by comparing the actual energy consumption of the building over twelve months against the expected energy consumption of a building of its kind. A rating of “A” has zero CO2 emissions while a rating of G has over twice the typical CO2 emissions for a UK building. Most buildings are registered in
the D and E categories. Estates development manager Julian Robinson said that even with reassessment “we wouldn’t get more than a C”. A final energy rating of C could be seen as problematic if it means that the school would not recoup its losses for the increased upfront investment it made in order to make the NAB environmentally friendly. According to Robinson, the LSE paid a premium of 5 per cent to get the “Excellent” BREEAM certificate. He said it was still too difficult to predict whether the school would in fact recoup the increased investment but he did point out that the project had been delivered on-time and underbudget. Robinson added that a building designed from scratch would be able to achieve an A rating, but the predetermined aspect and site of the NAB severely limited the design team, forcing them to use more energy-intensive systems.
Air conditioning, for example, had to be installed in the rooms facing Kingsway due to the excessive noise that would come from opening the windows. At present there are no A rated buildings on campus. The School has been criticised by students for its lack of visible follow-through regarding issues of sustainability. Environment and ethics officer Justus Rollin said: “The school could go much further with sustainability issues.” In response Julian pointed out that the Estates division had conducted a full environmental audit of all buildings on campus, which produced a list of suggestions with their associated costs and benefits. Future projects will include the refurbishment of Connaught House this summer, and the carbon-neutraliaation of the sports grounds. For the new Students’ Union building, Robinson hopes to propose a BREEAM target of “Outstanding”. Rollin added: “I would give the school
credit for pursuing certain sustainable aims but there are still certain individuals who are reluctant to take on a pro-active approach. While there is no official sustainable building policy for the school, Julian said that the NAB represents the way the School is “approaching building, long-
term maintenance and capital, not office, development”. Although it is not official policy, he predicts that, “all new buildings will have to have a high BREEAM rating. The school has seen now that it is achievable within a reasonable budget”.
4 The Beaver | 10 February 2009
Governor diversity data provoke relevance debate
Photo Picture special page 21
Students outside the Old Building last term Photo: Erik Lang
Ali Moussavi & Phyllis Lui Under one per cent of LSE’s governors come from an ethnic minority, a Beaver survey has shown, raising questions over how far one of the school’s most influential institutions represents the school’s student body. Twenty-five per cent of governors are women, compared to a student body that is 51 per cent female. Approximately 78 per cent of governors are over the age of 50, with 40 per cent older than sixty. The Court of Governors is second only to the school’s Council and the Director’s office in helping to set school policy. The governors’ constitutional terms of reference include “pre-decision dis-
0.9% 25% 51%
Proportion of LSE governors who come from an ethnic minority
Proportion of LSE governors who are female
Proportion of LSE students who are female
cussions on key policy issues and the involvement of individual governors in the school’s activities.” Approximately ninety governors currently sit on the court. Governors are drawn from alumni, donors, and academics selected by the school’s Academic Board. Five are student representatives, elected in Michaelmas term. The student representatives were not included in the Beaver’s sampling of the Court’s diversity. Daniel Sheldon, a student representative on court and the Students’ Union’s communications officer, said he was dismayed at the findings. “For such a diverse institution as LSE, it is both surprising and disappointing to learn that our governing body is so unrepresentative,” he said. “I hope the School accelerates their plans to reflect the diversity of our students and alumni in the Court of Governors,” Sheldon said.
School accused of excessive scrutiny over room bookings >> Continued from page 1
In a similar instance, a renowned LSE research centre tried to book a room for a speaking event with Hanan Ashrawi, the founder of the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy and a former Palestinian negotiator in the Middle East peace process. Revel included the head of LSE Security Paul Thornbury in the email chain about the event. He then asked the research centre staff for extensive information on the event, including liaison, publicity and contact details. He also suggested that the event be ticketed “both because of the sensitivity of the topic and the likely popularity of the event”.
The event’s organisers were the LSE research centre, the LSE Students’ Union Palestine Society and the Council for Arab British Understanding. Ultimately, the Council for Arab British Understanding, who were liaising with Ashrawi, moved to the event to the School of Oriental and African Studies because they felt that “it was much easier dealing with SOAS than LSE with all their questions”. At the time, an LSE student organising the event said that the LSE had “just lost a talk by Hanan Ashrawi due to the Conferences Office’s McCarthy-style policies.” On a third occasion, LSE Conferences decided not to charge the Palestine Society for a room booked for a conference of UK student Palestine societies. When approving the event, Revel informed the student organising the event that “this really does not qualify as a [sic] SU society event as its [sic] for a much wider membership that [sic] your soci-
ety and for the benefit of external groups. However since the event is this weekend and we have not picked up on it then we will not look to charge room hire on this occasion.” The student responded, “I do not accept the view that the conferences office is doing us a ‘favour’”. He argued that the meeting would be for the benefit of the Palestine Society on campus and that “meetings like this happen all the time at the LSE”. Student societies often use the contacts of external organisations to engage speakers for their events on campus. Political societies, for example, may contact their national party’s office to get major politicians to appear at Students’ Union society events. The extent of scrutiny on other societies is unclear. A possible review of room booking procedures was discussed by the School’s Court of Governors, with a view to moni-
toring extremism on campus. At a meeting in March 2007, it was stated said that the School “was continuing to focus on taking the practical steps to prevent extremism on campus reported to the Court in March, such as reviewing the detail of room booking procedures.” When asked to discuss the School’s roombookings policy in the context of Good Campus Relations, LSE Pro-Director for Teaching and Learning Janet Hartley declined to comment. However, an LSE spokesperson said: “LSE takes a serious but proportionate approach to possible extremism on campus. For this reason it’s sensible to keep an overview of events and meetings taking place on our premises.” “But the School has not subjected LSE Staff Against The War - or any other group - to individual targeting and extensive questioning, nor will it do so in future,” he said. “Where a proposal raises more questions than another, more questions will
be asked, irrespective of the nature of the event.” The School has also issued a statement arguing that the distinction which Revel and Hoggard pointed to in the email exchanges does not exist: “The room booking policy defines purely internal and purely external events plus some which fall between. There is no single definition of an “LSE event”.” An LSE spokesperson said: “The School aims - indeed has a legal duty - to uphold free speech. As long as an event does not threaten to infringe the law, the School takes no position on the political or other views which may be expressed at an event.” “Free speech is protected by a code of practice, which we expect the LSE Council shortly to review and if necessary update,” he added. The School has also denied that particular scrutiny has been directed at any one group of staff or students.
5 10 February 2009 | The Beaver
Election reforms defeated amid Union General Meeting chaos
Higher Education & Research LSE and sector news Cold weather and climate change? Snow relation Despite Britain experiencing the coldest winter in thirty years, scientists maintain that the snow was in accordance with global warming predictions. The weather is only a short term indicator whereas climate is determined over longer periods of time. Cold bursts like those recently experienced are becoming less frequent as the Earth experiences global warming. Bob Ward, spokesman for the Grantham Research Institute for Climate Change at London School of Economics, said: “Just as the wet summer of 2007 or recent heat waves cannot be attributed to global warming nor can this cold snap.”
Put children first, says report
Union returning officer Ossie Fikret (top), first speaker against the motion Vladimir Unkovski-Korica (left), member of the audience asking questions to speakers (right) Photos: Joseph Cotterill and Cherie Leung
Internet expansion plans for elections threaten fairness, opponents say Joe Rennison A controversial amendment to the Students’ Union’s codes of practice on elections has failed to pass at the Union General Meeting for a second consecutive week. The amendment fell despite changes to the original reform proposal being made last week in order to garner sufficient support for the amendment to pass. The debate centred on candidates being permitted to use the internet to campaign in Union elections. Websites and email canvassing are currently forbidden. The reform would allow for candidates to campaign using “all online tools.” PhD student Vladimir Unkovski-Korica spoke against the motion. “Unrestricted use of the web for campaigning purposes obviates existing rules that ensure equality
of opportunity for all candidates,” he said. Unkovski-Korica said that he was not opposed to the use of the internet during elections, but that allowing individual candidates to set up their own websites would marginalise those who did not have the skills to create them. Michael Deas, the second speaker against the motion, attacked the reform proposal’s continuing restrictions on internet use. Candidates would not be allowed to send personal messages to any individual on any social network, and Facebook pages relating to the elections would also be forbidden. “To not be able to send your mates a message about elections is stupid,” Deas said. Ossie Fikret, the Union returning officer in charge of running elections, drafted the reform. Fikret said that the restrictions had been justified.
“We decided to ban personal messages in an attempt to contain spam. We knew people would contact their friends on Facebook, and they’ll still do that now regardless of what the rules say,” he said. “What we wanted to have was a rule that would be enforceable in case people message the whole LSE network. Would people actually do this? With a £27,000 cheque at the end, almost certainly,” Fikret added. The reform also looked to offer greater freedom for the Media Group to report on events regarding the election. Currently the Beaver must offer equal print space to each candidate, meaning that an equal number of words must be printed about each candidate. Pulse radio is limited to broadcasting debates between candidates. Pulse Station Manager Mark Harrison said: “The current codes of practice completely gag the media. The rules are so strict that should one candidate punch another in the face we would not be allowed to report it, it really is that ridiculous.” “The electoral reforms are essential for us to be able to provide a balanced, trustworthy news service to inform the electorate and hopefully motivate them to vote,” he said.
Harrison added that the only source for updates during the election came from satirical blogs such as Hack Attack. Hack Attack and similar blogs have escaped Union regulation since beginning to appear on campus two years ago. The proposed reform would have allowed the Beaver and Pulse to “report news that is both an objective and factual” account of elections. Fikret said that the reform had fallen for a number of reasons. “The most obvious reason is pretty simple - people were confused. Amendments to amendments of amendments make for a pretty confusing vote,” he said. Fikret added that there was “another element at work within the UGM”. The vast majority of opposition, in fact all of it if I recall correctly, came from the same group of people within the UGM -coincidence? I think not,” Fikret said. “What we witnessed was electioneering and the holding of our democracy to ransom, by a group interested in not maximizing participation, but retaining a stranglehold over the Union,” he added. Unkovski-Korica dismissed Fikret’s allegation. “That could be suggested only by those who stand to gain nothing from an equal playing field,” he said.
Reform or no reform, we’ll keep you posted. By the time Students’ Union elections hit campus in a month’s time, the Union media group’s coverage will already be far in the future. Get ready for a multimedia deluge of broadcasting, blog posting and Beaver reporting, and find out how you can get involved.
Professor Lord Richard Layard, Emeritus Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, was part of an enquiry panel which recently published a report arguing that the individualism and “me-first” ideology of parents is damaging their children’s future. The adult pursuit of their own well-being above that of their children is contributing to increased family breakdown and an earlier sexualisation of children, the report found. Layard said: “We think that the preoccupation with self is taking too much of the joy out of children’s lives, out of their family lives, out of their school, even out of their leisure life and consumption.” He added: “In short children should think that it is love that is the most important thing in life.”
Pornography law attacked Andrew Murray, a Reader in Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, has come out in opposition toward a new law introduced by the government which aims to crack down on extreme forms of internet pornography. The law targets the publication of images which display extreme acts of sexual violence, bestiality or necrophilia. Murray thinks that the law will be impossible to enforce and will instead end up prosecuting those who indulge in legal fetishes like sado-masochism, bondage and domination.
6 The Beaver | 10 February 2009
China Week events celebrate coming of the Year of the Ox
LSE’s Chinese student community took part in a series of lectures, organised a stall on Houghton Street and held an exhibition of pictures taken by students in China (above) as part of Chinese New Year celebrations last week. Joseph Cotterill
Bankside students fined after roof party rumbled by wardens Phyllis Lui Students at a LSE residence were fined a combined total of £660 for “dangerously reckless” behaviour last week after a rooftop party went awry. 22 students were caught on the roof and balcony at Bankside House with alcohol, guitars and candles due to the noise they had created. A Bankside warden investigation discovered that a Facebook group had advertised the party. Students who attended the party said they had been unaware that the roof was off limits. One of the students said he had not seen any signs forbidding access. “If there were any, they should have been much bigger and the door should have been locked,” he added. Students’ Union Residences officer
Helen Roberts said she was told by a Bankside staff member that the roof prohibition was “not specified, but it’s just common sense”. In an email addressed to the students, the Bankside wardens outlined the penalties for the party, which included the fine and attendance at a meeting. The students’ behaviour was “utterly irresponsible,” the wardens added. The students collectively decided to accept the penalty and donate the fine to charity. One of the students said he believed the fine to be “rather excessive”. “Although now I’ve accepted the fine,” he added, “at first I thought it was unneccessary, as no damage was done.” The wardens said during the meeting that the punishment was less severe than action taken by other halls in similar cases in the past, and that it would be very unpleasant for them to make the phone calls to students’ parents in the case of injury.
Mr LSE candidates strut stuff in Quad Rees Sutton was crowned top male of the LSE student body last week in the Athletic Union’s men-only beauty pageant. Sutton and seven other contestants underwent a series of challenges in the competition, including a talent show, before a Quad crowd. Miss LSE, a female pageant held by non-Union external organisers last term, generated national controversy and was condemned by women’s groups in the Students’ Union. Joseph Cotterill
Societies’ anger at refused entry to ‘party of the year’
Jonathan Damsgaard & Marie Dunnaway Organisers of a joint society party entitled ‘Voulez-Vous?’ plan to sue the Vendrome club in Mayfair after the club turned away nearly half of the students attending the £2500 event. Club bouncers started to refuse entry an hour after the start of the party, enforcing an over-21 policy. Many of those who had bought tickets were refused entry for being under 21 but those who arrived and were admitted before the checks started said the club hadn’t been asking for age identification on the door. Vendrome had another booking for a party with UK men’s magazine Nuts which clashed with the Voulez Vous party. Society president and organiser of the event Nick Oudin said: “The club never told us about this other party”. He added
that the contract guaranteed the societies exclusivity at the club until 10:30 pm. Society members suggested that entry was refused to attendees of Voulez Vous so that the Nuts party could take priority. The night, organised by the FrancoBritish Student Alliance (FBSA), LSE Finance Society and the LSE Fashion Society, in conjunction with Kings College and UCL, was planned and advertised as ‘The Party of the year’. The party was a Moulin Rouge themed party with a Can-Can Fashion Show, French wines and free drinks for over 300 guests. Oudin continued that there were no terms regulating the age limit of the attendees. The societies had also received written confirmation that their guests would be admitted regardless of age. One student said “even though I was over 21, I was still not admitted”. The Vendome General Manager said that the club reserves the right of entry regarding all customers and such a provision
had been incorporated as a standard clause into the contract. The club asserts that it has an ‘over 21’ policy and the students should have been aware of this. Vendome claims that when a number of students had been refused entry at 10 pm, an incident at the door prompted the establishment to refuse entry to any and all of the guests. The organisers gave refunds on the door to those who arrived and were denied entry. Vendrome has refused to refund any of the fee. The party organizer’s agency is planning to sue Vendrome for the problems caused. Oudin, in a message to all those who planned to attend, said: “We did our best to organise a wonderful evening. Everything was planned accordingly and we had been working on this since Week 8 of MT. Please understand that we are extremely disappointed over this and hope that it will not affect your image of our respective societies.”
7 10 February 2009 | The Beaver
Union a mystery to most students Beaver survey uncovers widespread lack of interest in Students’ Union officials and structures Jonathan Damsgaard Eighty-eight per cent of students do not know what the LSE Students’ Union sabbatical officers do, a Beaver survey of almost four hundred students has indicated, fuelling the debate on apathy on campus. Twelve per cent of students surveyed last week could name the four sabbatical roles of General Secretary, Treasurer, Education and Welfare, and Communications. The survey’s findings come after the launch last term of ‘Your Union’, an ongoing consultation with students over the Union’s long-term future. The results also follows a complete rebrand of the Union at the beginning of the academic year. Making the Union relevant to students was central to both policies. While 50 per cent of students knew that the sabbatical officers have office hours, most were unable to account for their responsibilities. Seventeen per cent of students were able to name Aled Dilwyn Fisher as the Union’s general secretary. A total of 82 per cent were unaware that the role of general secretary existed. LSESU General Secretary Aled Fisher said: “It’s not bad. at a high pressure environment like lse you can’t expect everyone to know your name and its pretty good given the communication problems that the SU has faced and are in the process of amending.” More students could name the communications officer, Dan Sheldon, than could identify his role in the Union. Sheldon said that the fact more people know his name than know what his job is within the SU, “shows that my superior talents and personality shine through any shortcomings in my role.” Only 28 people of the 383 surveyed knew who the LSESU Treasurer was and this was coupled by an similarly low 38 people being able to name the LSESU Welfare officer. Some students said they were broadly aware of the ‘academic’ and ‘welfare’ roles of the sabbatical officers. The sabbatical officers form the leadership of the Students’ Union’s executive. The officers receive a £27,000 salary over the course of a one-year term to manage the Union’s staff, services, and overall direction on a full-time basis. Four students are voted into the positions in elections every Lent term. Fulltime students are also elected to societies, antiracism and women’s portfolios on the executive, among others. Forty per cent of students said that they read the Union’s global email. The communications officer sends the email to all students each week to promote Union activities and events.
Percentage of respondents who know Aled Fisher
Survey Results: We surveyed 383 students on campus over the past week. Can you name the Sabbatical Officers and their role? 66 people could name Aled Fisher, while 68 people knew our SU has a General Secretary 28 people could name Will Barber, while 39 people knew our SU has a Treasurer 50 people could name Dan Sheldon, while 41 people knew our SU has a communications officer 38 people could name Emmanuel Akpan-Inwang and 38 people knew our SU had a Welfare Officer Are you aware that the Sabbatical officers have office hours? 67% of those students surveyed were not Do you read the Global e-mail? 42% do not
Percentage of respondents who read the Global Email
No58% Yes42% “It’s a bit surprising that people don’t pay attention. If everyone participated in elections then maybe the Sabbatical officers would be more well known. They are getting a free ride”
“I’m shocked they get paid that much, I only knew [Aled Fisher] through the Beaver. I’ve not seen him on Houghton Street.
Nina Mason, Secondyear undergraduate
Migora, Second-year Law undergraduate
8 The Beaver | 10 February 2009
Comment The Beaver | 10 February 2009
Seeing through the veil: a tool for women’s liberty
Islam is not compatible with the oppression of women, but instead gives them freedom Mira Hammad Anja Krausova
LSESU Feminist Society Chair
t is not often that the label of oppression is tacked onto a people who are not oppressed. Throughout history, people have had to struggle for recognition of their suffering, no matter how real it is. For Muslim women living in the West, however, Western media and popular thought makes the assumption of oppression readily; based not on a real understanding of Islam or of the lives of Muslim women, but on a false supposition that any way of life which dares to be so wholly and perceptibly different from their own must in some way be less valid and lacking in the qualities which the West has claimed to belong to it alone, such as “freedom” and “equality”. The truth is that a celebrity- and image-obsessed media cannot comprehend the philosophy of women who choose to wear veils and to abandon the norms prescribed to them by a narrow-minded society. So they choose to explain away this life choice by placating themselves with the belief that these women have not made a conscious, informed, decision but have simply been forced to live in a certain way by their domineering male family members. Last year a friend of ours, living in Leeds, noticed ITV cameramen filming people while she was shopping on the high street. She thought no more of it until she watched the news and saw statistics about forced marriage in Britain were being set to a backdrop of an image of her walking down the street. Clearly, the fact that she wears hijab had nothing to do with this interesting choice of background. The irony is that forced marriage is expressly forbidden in Islam, a fact that I have never heard mentioned in the mainstream media despite the discussions that crop up every few months regarding forced marriage. The newspapers, too, are peppered with their fair share of patronising and misplaced attempts to “liberate” women from the influence of Islam - as seen in an article in the Guardian, which, referring
A symbol of oppression, or liberation? Photo: flickr user See Wah to Islam, claimed that “Women are always the main victims, since extreme religions express their identities through... disgust of women.” Call me presumptuous, but I feel that if I am to be treated as a victim I should at least be allowed the privilege of being one. I would also like an explanation as to how any religion which refers to Paradise as being “at the feet of your mother” can also paradoxically hold any kind of disgust for women. It is not that I am ignorant of the effect of the misinterpretation of Islam on the common perception of the faith. I can comprehend, in a world where so-called ‘Muslim countries’ such as Saudi Arabia propagate rules like the law forbidding women from driving, why many people who are ignorant of the tenets of Islam could assume that sexist policies are indeed - as the Saudi Arabian government claims - part and parcel of the Muslim message. What these people fail to realise, however, is that the word ‘Islam’ is used as a shroud by some governments in Arab
countries in order to mask their own repressive regimes and to fuel the pretence that their actions are not propelled by greedy self interest but are the result of some higher belief system. Anyone who has studied Islam in any level of depth or openness will realise that not only is this a complete fallacy, but Islam and sexism are also a complete contradiction in terms. In a religion which believes that men and women were created “from a single soul” in order to be “partners” the idea of a two tier system where men are treated on a higher level than women is surely abhorrent.
he point, however, is that in the same way that people recognised that the white supremacists’ use of Christianity to justify their actions in South Africa was totally erroneous and completely at odds with Christianity, so too is the use of Islam to justify any form of subjugation of women. The problem is, while people in the West were very aware of the Christian
faith, and so could see by themselves the level of distortion applied, their position on Islam is by and large one of ignorance. In order to achieve a true perspective on what Islam means for women, and indeed as a whole, people need to look not at “Muslim” countries and the model of Islam they claim to stand for but at the religion itself. Initiatives such as the LSESU Islamic Society “Discover Islam Week”, which is taking place this week, are a perfect platform from which to do so. So, you may be asking, if Islam does not stand for oppression, then what does it stand for, in relation to women? For me, it is tantamount to liberation, not repression. I say this as someone who has tried out several different philosophies and genuinely found Islam to be the one that delivered the deepest sense of freedom. Growing up, I had always been a ‘passport Muslim’, but I only really decided to embrace Islam a couple of months before I came to university. It was also at this time that I started to wear a headscarf - a garment that many Western commenta-
Mr LSE: harmless fun The pageant did not seek to undermine feminism; it was tongue-in-cheek Danielle Priestley
ontrary to some expectations, last Wednesday’s Mr LSE competition was a highly enjoyable night off not senseless mockery, but classic parody. I consider myself a feminist in terms of the fact that I advocate equal rights for the genders in education, work, sport, society, and all other possible aspects of life, and I denounce certain realities, such
as the fact that single female pensioners are more likely to live in poverty than their male counterparts, and that rape is an endemic and under-prosecuted problem in our society. However, it is extremely misguided, unhelpful, and even offensive, to link the endurance of these and other abhorrent statistics to the phenomenon of the beauty pageant, and particularly to the lowly Mr LSE competition. What many seem not to realise is that the Athletics Union is made up of a roughly equal number of males and females, as is the AU executive, which made the decision to put on the Mr LSE
Photo: Cheri Leung competition. The AU is not a misogynistic institution that seeks to mock the achievements of feminism, but a group of students who generally found the School and nationwide reaction to December’s Miss LSE competition frankly a bit over the top. Don’t get me wrong; I think beauty pageants are rather silly and archaic, and there were aspects of Miss LSE which any decent, respectful human being should oppose, including the taking of the participants’ measurements on stage. But I’ll concentrate my energies on denouncing that aspect of the competition, not the competition itself, just as women in
football or rugby, for instance, concentrate their energies on raising the profile of women’s sport and removing barriers to participation, rather than condemning the sport as a whole. Just as many comedians seek to derive amusement from the parodying of serious topics, so the organisers of Mr LSE sought to derive amusement from the semi-serious topic of the beauty pageant and recent reactions thereto. Ed Healy, AU Communications Officer, said that “when we came up of the idea of Mr LSE, there was no intention of mocking Miss LSE what so ever. When we first came up with the idea, we wanted
tors seem to regard as the ultimate symbol of oppression. I consider the decision to wear it to be the best I have ever made. It is difficult to explain the significance of wearing hijab to those who haven’t experienced it. It is an immensely satisfying feeling to transcend societal standards which are based around the objectification of women and ascend instead to a level where women are not expected to be shallow sex symbols but are judged as valid human beings. It is a statement that for us, at least, there is more to life than appearance and women do not have to resort to plastic surgery and laborious beauty processes in order to be recognised as being of worth. Islam should be recognised as a beacon for women’s rights, not the opposite. In this way, the feminist movement and Islam have a lot in common. It really should have been Muslims that stood beside the Feminist Society at the forefront of the anti-Miss LSE campaign, and it is a Muslim’s duty to fight against the oppression and the objectification of women, wherever it may occur.
to imitate the classic show ‘Man O Man’. We think the show was extremely well received, not only by the female contingent of the audience, but also by the males who were also in attendance, and from the feedback we have received we are confident that the next AU Exec will be copying the idea again”. Let’s not turn the whole issue into something it’s not: Mr LSE was not a mockery of women, of feminism, or of men. And let’s not be arrogant enough to think it’s going to have wider, reverberating consequences for the oppression and inequality of women in our society. It was an evening of hilarity during which a roomful of students got to laugh at eight men singing, dancing, and planking (generally making idiots of themselves) in the name of tongue-in-cheek joviality. My heartfelt thanks to all involved, especially Clare and her “pimped” crutches (yes, I am noting the androcentric irony of the word ‘pimped’), Bocca for singing the personally sentimental ‘Blaydon Races’, and the AU executive for not taking themselves too seriously.
10 The Beaver | 10 February 2009
The Beaver Established in 1949 Issue No. 701
Telephone: 0207 955 6705 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
e hope he will not call anyone loss-making this time. The school’s director, Howard Davies, will once again make himself available to answer questions and debate from students at this week’s Union General Meeting on Thursday. It is fair to say that Davies’ last performance was almost a complete disaster. The director managed to insult the majority of students by implying that they were a drain on the school’s finances, and dismissed many students’ questions far too curtly for this newspaper’s liking. Members of the Athletic Union, for example, asked what the school would do to reschedule classes and lectures away from sports activities on Wednesday afternoons. They were treated to the
Questions for the director bizarre spectacle of Davies, a former chair of the Financial Services Authority and grandee of the Tate galleries and the Booker prize, attempting to argue that afternoons begin at one o’clock rather than midday. Overall, it was a tragically wasted opportunity for students to question the head of their university directly - an opportunity that our peers at almost any other university in the country do not get, and which we are lucky to have. Davies eventually and gracefully apologised for any offence that had been caused by his remark, in a Beaver comment piece. This time around in the UGM, the director should pay students the courtesy of giving much fuller answers to the questions that they ask. Compared to last term’s hearing, where the nursery and the relative emptiness of the New Academic Building were discussed, some issues have been solved. However, as even a cursory
look at this week’s Beaver news pages shows, the director should present the school’s view on new issues that have arisen. It would be well worth students asking, for instance, what the school can do with regards to the Student Loans Company’s treatment of bursaries. Or how the school’s governors can be made more diverse and reflective of the student body: a Court of Governors that is 99 per cent white is just not good enough. There are also wider issues of what the school can do to promote graduate recruitment as recession teeters on the brink of depression and university leavers find themselves in the worst jobs drought for twenty years. Then there are problems left over from last term. What will the school do to make Wednesday afternoons free for sports players? Davies seemed surprised by the depth of feeling on the issue at his last UGM appearance, and promised that the school’s timetables office would look into the situation. What
will happen now? On one issue in particular, however, the director must make the school’s position much plainer than in the past. The Beaver reports this week allegations that Davies did not give a full account of the school’s investment in arms companies. Campaigners from the Not for Profit movement that has just been set up on campus say LSE may still contribute money to arms companies through a tracker fund, and that there is nothing to prevent the money going to these firms during normal trading. The Beaver will leave the merits of the protesters’ claims up to readers to decide, but on such a morally controversial issue we feel that it was important and in the interest of students that the allegations were published. In many ways this issue is now bound up with the legacy of last month’s Old Theatre occupation, the organisers of which demanded divestment from
firms which supplied arms to Israel in the Gaza war. It is a legacy which this newspaper largely regards as baleful and damaging to relations on campus. The director may, or may not, have something to say about that as well. But ethical investment is something that affects us all at LSE. The time is right for LSE to stake out its rightful position as a moral leader among universities in this country. There can be no real opposition to creating a truly ethical investment strategy in the school. The presumably small returns LSE may or may not get from investing in arms companies via the tracker fund are just not worth the moral ambiguity and opprobrium that LSE could attract on this issue. Students can therefore look forward to this week’s meeting. If the director could discuss the finer points of the world’s financial meltdown at the recent Davos World Economic Forum, then surely he can give a straight answer to LSE students.
11 The Beaver | 10 February 2009
RBS’s shameful involvement with oil and gas must be ended
The bank’s unethical policies could offset any gains promised in climate change legislation Jade Buddenberg
anks have received much negative press lately. Sensational headlines exposed irresponsible lending and immorally high bonuses. Unethical investment policies, however, escaped the limelight. The Royal Bank of Scotland, one of the UK’s largest banks - which also owns NatWest - is a prime example. Its corporate social responsibility team has worked hard to conceal that the bank is the UK’s leading financier of climate change. Sneakily, its marketing has moved away from the old RBS image of ‘the oil and gas bank’, and the bank’s PR boasts 30 per cent reduction of in-house carbon emissions. Behind the scenes, however, RBS is funding environmental disaster without scruple. Even though taxpayers’ money bought 60 per cent of its shares, the government encourages business as usual at RBS. RBS provides essential finance for two climatically outrageous projects: Kingsnorth Coal Power Station and Canadian tar sands. If built, the former will bust any hopes of the UK government reaching carbon targets set by its climate bill. The latter, if exploited fully, will immorally accelerate climate change and turn an area as big as the UK into toxic wasteland. RBS is not the only financer of these two climate crimes. Yet it provided $10 billion for oil and gas projects in 2006 alone, more than any other UK bank. Canada sits on 15 per cent of total global oil locked into sand below pristine forest. The cost of extraction is nearly double that of conventional oil. Tapping this resource was unthinkable before peak oil and prices of $100 a barrel. Oil companies scrambled for this alternative source of fossil fuel, literally scraping the bottom of the barrel. In 2004 and 2006 RBS arranged $800 million in loans to the Long Lake tar sands project in Canada, effectively investing in environmental disaster. Producing oil from tar sands involves deforestation, heating the sand and washing the tar out. This process emits three times more CO2 than conventional oil extraction. Along the way, an area larger
The RBS building in London Photo: flickr user Drumaboy than the UK could be deprived of forest. Boreal forest is special because it is one of the last ancient pristine forests in the world. Besides losing all its wildlife and a chunk of Canadian natural beauty, a valuable carbon sink is destroyed. Even worse, the soil acts as a carbon dioxide store, and so this greenhouse gas is released during extraction. Lastly, the water used to wash the tar from the sand is left behind in lakes of toxic liquid, turning the area into a contaminated wasteland. In times of economic recession, oil and gas are considered safe investments. But in the long run, Canadian tar sands pose a risky venture in pure financial terms. The cost of expected law suits by affected locals and environmental groups is beyond estimation. Loops in the Canadian legal system are likely to close soon so that land will have to be restored to its former state. This will cost all stakeholders dearly. The recent drop in the oil price to half its value once again raises concern over the price tag of extraction. Finally, the reputation of all companies involved will suffer. Most importantly, burning the fossil fuel available in tar sands will counter any effort to combat climate change. Carbon emission targets will be unreachable if Canadian alternative fossil fuels are not fully exploited. All environmental legisla-
tion is undermined by such projects. The post-Kyoto talks taking place later this year in Copenhagen have thus suffered a set back before they even began. The credibility of the negotiating countries whose banks finance Canadian tar sands may rightly be questioned. On this side of the Atlantic, EON are planning to build the first new coal power plant in the UK for thirty years. The existing facilities at Kingsnorth in Kent are to be replaced by a coal firing station that is only 20 per cent cleaner. Instead of moving resources into sustainable sources of energy, the government is considering sanctioning this project. Coal is by far the dirtiest of fossil fuels because of the large carbon dioxide volumes released upon burning. If Kingsnorth is built, it will emit more carbon dioxide each year than the whole of Ghana, according to the World Development Movement. EON boast that ‘carbon capture and storage’ (CCS) technology will remedy this effect. However, this technology is far from ready to use commercially. At the same time it would increase the plant’s energy needs by at least a quarter. The method of storing carbon dioxide under the earth is hardly a solution, reminiscent of nuclear waste contaminating the earth for decades. Deserving more ridicule, Kingsnorth is at most ‘CCS ready’ and
A queer kind of progress Lizzie Merrow
LSESU LGBT Officer
ust over a month ago, the Pope declared that gays pose the same threat to life on this planet as global warming. The pontiff’s address brought to a close a year which saw a cacophonous and international debate surrounding the confrontation between religious and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) rights groups. In November, Proposition 8 passed in California to amend the state’s constitution to define marriage as an exclusively heterosexual union. Groups supporting Prop 8, in particular the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, claimed that the legalisation of gay marriage threat-
RBS, or the ‘Oyal Bank of Scotland’, is literally fuelling climate chaos. Even two years ago, its embedded carbon footprint was estimated to be larger than that of Scotland, chiefly due to its involvement in Canadian tar sands. The bank’s CSR division is keen to point out its efforts to reduce internal carbon emissions. However, RBS refuse to even monitor indirect emissions which have risen fivefold from 2001-2006. RBS claim they invest on behalf of clients and rebuff any responsibility for their investments. Syndicated loans have made it difficult to blame one bank alone for financing a project. Pressure groups and environmentalists are calling for more transparency. Especially after the bailout, the UK taxpayer has a right to more accountability. Yet the government insists at keeping RBS at an arm’s length. The pressure is building, along with calls for a more regulated banking system. Campaigners are fighting for more ethical investment policies. People and Planet, a UK-wide student group, are threatening to boycott RBS-NatWest in autumn next year. Their impact remains to be seen, but the government is in a unique position to set a standard in accordance with its ambitious climate bill. RBS, in the meantime, is likely to increase investment into their CSR division.
The controversy over the appointment of openly gay Gene Robinson as bishop shows there is still some way to go to reconcile religion and sexuality Photo: flickr user Lynceus
Legal recognition of trans identity is needed ened their religious freedom, and pumped millions of dollars into the campaign for the measure. These events may lead some to worry about mounting tension in the supposed contradictions between religious values and LGBT rights. What is often overlooked is the degree of support the gay community received from certain religious minorities in the run-up to the elections. A number of Jewish groups voiced their opposition to Prop 8, as did the Episcopal Church in California. Following the election, Jon Meacham, an author and commentator on issues of faith in America who is a practicing Episcopalian, claimed that there was “a very compelling religious case to be made for gay marriage. It is not the job of religious people to deny sacraments.” Dan Savage, gay rights activist and advice columnist, pointed out that there are congregations in America “that will marry gay and lesbian couples. What about their religious freedom?” Footage from every major American city on 15 November showed hundreds
there are no guarantees the technology will ever be used. Caroline Lucas MEP reported that Kingsnorth being ‘CCS ready’ means “there is a big space much like a car park next to the proposed coal fire station” – nothing more. All of EON’s greenwash should not distract from the detrimental consequences Kingsnorth would have. Not only will it undermine the UK government’s Climate Bill targets. It will embarrass this country as hypocrites at international climate negotiations. How is it, China will surely ask, that we should not rely on coal for power while you are investing in it yourself? RBS was the mandated lead arranger of $70 billion of loans to EON in 2007 along with Barclays and HSBC. The proximity of this deal to the announcement of Kingsnorth suggests that RBS loans will partially finance the coal plant. Sadly, this is only the tip of the melting iceberg for RBS. The bank has provided coal financing loans totaling $95 billion in the short time span of 2006 to 2008. Admittedly, RBS has financed some renewable energy projects, including wind farms in Italy and Australia. But these investments remain laughable compared to the bank’s involvement in coal. Scaled against total investments in oil and gas, RBS’s contribution to renewable energy is virtually invisible.
of thousands of people demonstrating against Proposition 8. The amendment overturned the ruling of the state’s Supreme Court that denial of equal protection under the law on the grounds of sexual orientation is unconstitutional. This, and the fact that the straight majority was allowed to vote on the rights of the minority, led many straight ‘allies’ – supporters of the LGBT movement – to take to the streets alongside those more directly affected. The events after Prop 8, and the fact that the amendment passed by a mere 4 per cent of the vote – as opposed to 20 per cent, which was the winning margin of a similar measure in 2004 – should be viewed as a source of encouragement. Not only is society progressing towards a more open and accepting attitude towards gay rights, religious groups are participating in the struggle. In last week’s partB, Neeraj Patel outlined the concept of ‘trans’ and the range of identities which it encompasses. Trans people will often reject the gender assigned to them at birth (at birth,
assigned gender is based on exterior anatomy), on the grounds that their self-identified gender doesn’t match up with their assigned gender. Some identify with the opposite gender (male or female), some don’t feel comfortable defining themselves within the male-female-binary at all, and some identify as both. These identities and issues fall within the umbrella term ‘trans’, and belong to what is probably the least recognised minority in the UK. Patel drew attention to the fact that the LSE’s anti-harassment policy neglects to mention discrimination on the grounds of gender identity. In fact, the School fulfils this country’s legal standards by excluding trans people from protection: there is no hate crime legislation pertaining to gender identity. This stems from the fact that there are only two recognised gender identities in UK law: male and female. In effect, the gender binary of male and female is enforced by law. This creates a whole range of unnecessary problems for trans people, and should possibly be considered
to be governmental coercion in its worst form, reaching beyond mere regulation of the individual’s home or right to privacy, attempting to restrict their very identity. Proposition 8 and measures like it pose a threat not only to the rights of gay and bisexual people, but also to straight people’s rights, because it grants the state the authority to decide which type of partner is acceptable in which type of legally recognised union. UK law poses a threat to trans and non-trans people alike because it dictates who a person can or can’t be. However, it is important to recognize and appreciate the progress which has been made: where division and prejudice were formerly the rule, LGB rights groups have become increasingly aware of the ‘T’ that was only recently added to their acronym. Education on trans identity has made significant progress. With continued unity within and pressure from the LGBT and ally community, UK legislation will evolve to accommodate for trans people, their protection and recognition under the law.
12 The Beaver | 10 February 2009
Letters to the editor More abortion debate on campus Dear Sir, Whatever happened to debate at the LSE? Firstly, on picking up a copy of The Beaver (700th edition, no less) this week I was disappointed by the highly tendentious content. I read three articles which approached the sensitive and difficult subject of abortion. It is a grave subject upon which good people disagree. There appeared, however, to be no room for disagreement with the prevailing pro-choice orthodoxy amongst The Beaver Editorial team given that there was not a shred of balance in the 3 reporting or comment pieces, and nobody commissioned to give an alternative viewpoint. I hope this apparent disparity will be disolved with an article putting the other side of the argument in next week’s edition. Secondly, Mr. Akpan-Inwang appears incandescent at the audacity of a group who believe the unborn child is a worthy cause to champion and advocate their case should wish to share their views with LSE Students. Surely a man with such a temperament is ill-suited to the position of Education and Welfare Officer, let alone the LSE: a veritable hotbed of debate rerum cognoscere causas[italics]. Finally, after some time trying to locate the Letters “section” in The Beaver, I came across a meagre two letters buried in a single column slither. When I contributed to the column inches of the newspaper, the Letters section was the scene of robust exchange, alas no longer. I would like to be proved wrong by the publication of this letter and steps taken to redress concerns expressed herewith.
Email: email@example.com Fax: 0207 852 3733 Letters must be received by midnight on the Sunday prior to publication. They must state your full name and be no longer than 250 words. Letters may be edited.
Not as grim as you think up north Dear Sir, I was shocked to read an article in this week’s Beaver entitled “students, academic debate grimness of the North”. The wording of the title alone aggrieved me. This constant negative connotation that the North holds as being grim, poor and unhappy is something that must be changed. On a monetary scale, the North may be of slightly less value than the South, but Sir, I ask you now, can you put a price on happiness and joy? Living in the North gives me such pleasure, the friendliness of the people is unrivalled and the landscape is varied and stunning. I only hope that not all LSE students hold views similar to those of Tim Leunig. Indeed, I willingly invite any confused southerners to spend a weekend at my home in Yorkshire to experience the area I so love. There’s nowt wrong wi the north! Yours sincerely, Joshua E T Wood BSc ‘11
Yours faithfully, Samuel Burke BSc ‘08
Parallels with the Conservative past Dear Sir, So the Conservative Future leader says his party will only oppose “far-left fascism”. Maybe his party still prefer to make friends with fascists of the far-right, just like Maggie Thatcher did with General Pinochet? Gary Buswell BSc ‘09
Blackpool tower, beach and pier in northern England Photo: flickr user Neil101
Short-selling must not be left unchecked Greater regulation of this speculative corner of the finacial sector will help confidnce
hort-sellers. They’ve been blamed for financial ruin since 1929, but who are they, and what do they do? Put simply, they borrow (or in some cases don’t even bother to do this – so-called ‘naked short-selling’) shares from a company and sell them in the hope the prices will fall. The aim is to buy them back at a lower price in order to return the stock to the original owner - pocketing the difference as profit. They usually work as part of hedge fund management. Consider this statement from former Dr Mahathir Mohammad, expressing views typical of many Third World leaders when it comes to short-selling: “Stop hedge funds, derivatives and currency
trading. Stop banks lending non-existent money by the billions. Regulate and supervise your banks. Jail miscreants who made profits from abusing the system.” This statement was sent in an open letter from the former leader of Malaysia for twenty three years to Barack Obama upon his assuming the presidency. Mahathir has also blamed George Soros, the famous Hungarian-born stock market speculator in the past for his country’s currency collapse in 1997. He has some other strange ideas, but nevertheless his viewpoint carries great currency in the Third World. In the current crisis, short-selling has been blamed for high-profile casualties. Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland, blamed “spins and speculators”, in reference to short sellers, for HBOS’s plummeting share price, which fluctuated between 88p and 220p on 17 September 2008, before a take-over deal by Lloyds TSB was announced later the same day. There are reports that traders had short-
Short-sellers rely on falling share prices to make profits Photo: flickr user saibotregeel sold HBOS share stocks and then spread rumors through anonymous e-mails about its poor funding position. One trader is said to have made £100 million. Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, called hedge fund managers who partake in short-selling as the “masters of the universe.” The Financial Services Authority soon after launched an investigation and banned all short-selling on 19 September. But this ban was not renewed last month after a review, but the FSA instead demanded that short-sellers disclose their position to the market. Most analysts say that short-sellers are not to blame for the current financial crisis. Before the crisis there had been a boom in short-selling, particularly in Asian markets in which, ironically, antishort-selling feeling has traditionally been high over the last decade, due to the currency crisis there in 1997. The FSA has refused to extend the ban amid an admission that the initial ban
may have harmed the market by dampening any chances of liquidity entering back into the system. At the same time, Germany, Belgium and France have extended their bans until March. The FSA has also declined to impose further restrictions on short-selling. It has refused to introduce a ‘circuit-breaker’, whereby trades of shares are suspended if their price falls by more than 10 per cent, as well as to adopt a ‘tick-up-rule’, where shares can be traded only if their price is rising. There is an expectation that the FSA may adopt similar practices to the US, where all brokers are required to mark a sale as a long or short one. This would allow for more data on the market and therefore more transparency; having the desired effect of investors being able to determine whether a sale is artificial or not. Why is the UK so in love with shortselling then? Short-selling is an extreme of the free market, a powerful tool in ‘cleaning up the market’. During the 1997
Asian crisis many analysts and World Bank officials lamented these countries’ poor economic fundamentals such as current account deficits. Yet Hong Kong had an excellent current account situation in 1997, and solid foreign reserves worth US$88 billion. Why then did its currency stumble in 1997? Eventually, Hong Kong was able to avoid devaluation, but it still saw a severe fall in its stock market value when its economy was on a relatively fine footing. Incidentally, Donald Tsang, the then Financial Secretary, declared war on the speculators. But the fact remains that short-selling is big business. It seems it would be silly to put a total ban on short-selling – it is an effective tool of the market to expose inefficient market positions, such as a current account deficit. Yet the practice itself must not go unchecked. We need more transparency, and a declaration by brokers of whether a sale is long or short is a good start - but only that.
Features The Beaver | 10 February 2009
Photo: Beaver archive
The London School of Exclusion
Joe Sammut and Aliabbas Virani discuss the elitism behind British university admissions erhaps the acronym LSE should to experience a drop in living standards Centralisation of research funding is in Sussex, which trains students in skills stand for “London School of Ex- to “releverage” the economy shows that “It sometimes not the only problem with the RAE. As is transferable to business, as a sign of the clusion”. An investigation in last perhaps, he believes that EU and home fully consistent with Labour’s policy in university’s move away from critical and Monday’s Guardian confirms students should be charged fees compaother areas, it focuses attention on proholistic education. It can be posited that feels like you’re that Britain’s top universities are rable to what is imposed on international viding research and the “relevant skills” this move is in effect subsidising the the reserve of the “well-off middle class”. students. Anna Krausova, a second-year for employability in today’s economy. costly aspects of business, such as trainThe research found that children from the buying your Government undergraduate, said she beIn practice, this means that education ing, and thus increasing the profit level at most affluent quarter of families account lieves that “the bureaucrats in the school is becoming increasingly modular and the expense of the fee paying student and for 55 per cent of students at “prestigious administration are looking to rip off UK narrowly focused on acquiring particular taxpayer. way into a white universities”. This was described as and EU students as much as international skills that are useful for employers. In a The latest economic recession is set to evidence of a “ticking time bomb” as a lack students”. speech last Thursday, Tony Benn argued intensify this business-driven policy. The man’s club of equal opportunities for education often This disparity between EU students that education should be focused on Education Department recently cut the deepens social problems. and international students is unpopular “discovering the genius in everybody” and teaching grant at the London MetropoliAmongst the “prestigious” universiwith some sectors of the LSE student should be a “lifelong process” rather than tan University by 10 per cent. A University instead of being ties used in the research were Bristol and body. An international student, who a just precursor to employment. The aim and College Lecturers Union (UCU) repWarwick, which are merely members wished to remain anonymous, argued that of creating critical, educated people – vital resentative from the university said that welcomed due to of the elite Russell group. This is unlike “this is a disgusting example of the UK’s for the survival of a democratic society “there was nothing left to cut” and that the the LSE, which is part of the unofficially climate of hostility to foreigners. People – seems unimportant in comparison to cut was having a damaging effect on edutermed, super-elite “G5 group” of British are judged not on their intellect but on providing functionaries for industries. cation quality. According to him, teachers your universities. whether they can pay the fees; it someThis is the essence of the univer“teach ridiculous hours so cannot teach This long standing trend of elitism is times feels that you’re buying your way sity model that is being implemented in the way [they] would like”. The London contribution” set to be amplified by the fierce lobbying into a white man’s club instead of being the UK, even though only a minority of Met faces 400 redundancies and the UCU of the G5 group of universities. The G5, welcomed due to your contribution to an universities (such as the LSE) concentrate representative argued that is is likely to
coined by the Times Higher Education Supplement, is named after the G7, the largest capitalist economies. They represent a group of universities that regard themselves as the best and most prestigious in the country. Richard Sykes, Rector of Imperial College London (a fellow G5 university) till July last year, threatened to reject home and EU students unless the £3000 cap on tuition fees was lifted. The resonance of this threat can be felt within the LSE itself, with its 60 per cent of international students who pay enormous sums to acquire a degree with the LSE brand name. More recently, the Chancellor of Oxford University, Lord Patten, stated his belief that universities should “not be treated like social security offices” and that the cap on tuition fees should not exist at all. In other words, he believed universities that have high levels of research funding and are well-reputed should charge fees comparable to that charged in American universities. Howard Davies’ views on the lossmaking nature of home fee-paying students are not unknown. His recent comments that people are going to have
academic institution.” If this fee change is to be implemented, it will only come into effect after a review next year. In a shining example of the beacon that is British democracy, the Labour government made an agreement to postpone the findings of the review until after the next general election. It would not be ridiculous to claim that this shows an expectation of an unfavourable and predetermined result, instead of a decision only being made after all information is considered. Part of the problem for UK universities is the high level of bureaucracy and centralised control over funding. An illustration of this is the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), a committee that decides how funding is allocated based upon a faculty’s level and “quality” of published research. The RAE assesses the productivity of a faculty and, through the absurd logic of Thatcherism, the best performing departments are given more funding. The government programme “The Future of Higher Education” even admits that this will see funding being concentrated in the hands of a small minority of universities, while the rest will face budget cuts.
on research. The majority of universities will become mere training institutions for employment. The government paper that outlines their programme states that “realising the economic benefits of university research” is a central aspect of policy. This policy encourages the funding of faculties that have directly transferable research for business but at the detriment of faculties without such skills. This affects humanities and social science faculties in particular. At the LSE, a department which is under direct threat is the department of Social Anthropology. Conversely, departments such as the Economics department will continue to shift from any critical discussion on the subject towards skills required for financial institutions. This process of shifting priorities are already felt in other universities such as Sussex University, a reasonably prestigious institution, where the campaign “Sussex: Not For Sale” was formed. This was an organisation of students, teachers and lecturers who aimed to combat the perceived threat of the business driven approach to other departments. At the heart of the campaign is the recent and massive expansion of the Business School
enter a “spiral of decline”. That is, unless it becomes a “private institution” that would entail the complete closure of the Met as an academic institution and turning it into a training institute for business. In his speech on Thursday, Tony Benn argued “if you can bail out the bloody banks you can bail out the education system”. This argument can be developed into a solution for education in the country. Contrary to claims of feasibility, the UK managed to maintain a world-class higher education system that was free at the point of access; this is maintained in most European countries as well as some less economically-developed countries. If the aim of higher education is to educate people critically and holistically, then this programme is a surely solution. The alternative is a series of training institutions that can add value to labour for business, but nothing more, at the taxpayers and fee payer’s expense. Fortunately, the renaissance of student activism on campus and across the country makes the former solution realisable.
14 The Beaver | 10 February 2009
CAMPBELL MCDADE AND ESTELLE COOCH DISCUSS THE INDUSTRIAL ACTIONS
Photos: Steve Miller
Stop banking on ‘racism’ spin Campbell McDade criticises the Government’s flawed and cynical accusations of xenophobia s the strikes and protests oil workers aside, the dangers of xenophonationalist undertones. the virtues of the free market at Davos, at the Lindsey oil refinery If the Prime bia and fervent nationalism still persist. However, staying aware of this danger especially in the face of calls across came to an end on ThursIn the very same news broadcast, the BBC is markedly different from painting the the pond for protectionism. The USA day, Gordon Brown is surely showed an incident in which a member workers at Lindsey as xenophobes. Such and Britain have spent the last 30 years Minister and the ruing his choice of words 18 of the British National Party was trying rhetoric is inflammatory and if anything, preaching to the rest of the world about months ago when he promised “British to hand out leaflets to the strikers. In the likely to drive workers into the arms of the importance of free flow of capital and jobs for every British worker”. The sentiBusiness spirit of accurate and fair reporting, they the BNP and other groups who should be goods. For them to about turn when things ment behind these words was perhaps subsequently showed a worker asking for excluded as much as possible from the start to get rough is hypocritical, and not noble, but wholly inconsisent with his the BNP member to be removed, but the political process. the correct course of action. However, the Secretary are ardent support for free trade and open incident is still a worrying reminder of the Some of the members of the strike free market does not have to be inconsismarkets at the World Economic Forum potential political backlash in times like might be BNP members, and some might tent with rightful justice. If IREM had the worried about in Davos last week; urging countries to ours. even be thinking of voting for or supportbest proposal, they should be awarded avoid retreating into protectionism. His Last week’s Beaver reported that ing the BNP, but generalist comments the contract by all means. But when they is right in the latter (and most probably Michael Rock, the national chair of such as Lord Mandelson’s that we should are employing foreign workers because xenophobia, a taken out of context in the former), but Conservative Future, was unwilling to join concentrate on economic issues and not the British minimum wage allows them with a recession firmly entrenched and a the LSE in supporting an anti-BNP drive, the “politics of xenophobia” is hardly to ignore local pay deals, then there are more useful start looming depression, courses of action and which highlights that such complacency helpful. Society at large has a responsibilclearly problems. word choices will be looked at with an eye is not uncommon. Aled Fisher was absoity to ensure that members of the BNP, or If the Prime Minister and the Business towards criticism. lutely right in attacking Rock for his prefany other extremist, group are isolated Secretary are worried about xenophobia, a would perhaps Contradictions present in Brown’s erence of ‘bogus theoretical debates’. The and unable to preach their ignorance to more useful start would perhaps be makspeech are one thing, but this is quite BNP is dangerous; they preach extremist others. The governing party should not ing sure there is social protection in place, be making sure different from his senior ministers’ claims rhetoric and it is childish and ignorant belittle the economic plight of citizens, rather than bandying the term about in an that the strike actions last week were xeof anyone with any sense of historical but should make sure that there are social attempt to denigrate and deliberately misnophobic. These are not jingoistic nationknowledge to not to join in wholeheartsafety nets to protect those who have been represent the angst on the picket lines. We there is social alists, they are workers who, like many edly condemning them. dealt a bad hand by the free market and must ensure the EU and common market of us, are worried about the prospects of A leaked Home Office report last globalisation. is maintained (not least because British protection in work in this harsh economic climate. September, entitled ‘Responding to The workers at Lindsey are not blamworkers are employed on the continent far The government is not alone in this. Economic Challenges’, made, was proof ing the foreigners who are ‘stealing their more than other Europeans are employed The BBC was forced to apologise for the that the government is worried about the jobs’ for their grievances. Rather, they in Britain) while at the same time making place misrepresentation of a worker on strike, economic downturn leading to increased are upset that the winners of the Total sure there is protection for British workers
who was shown on Monday’s news saying, “These Portuguese and Eyeties - we can’t work alongside them”. Apparently, he had gone on to say that the British workers could not work alongside the foreign workers because they were being segregated by the hiring firm, rather than because they were impossible to abide by. Using the term “Eyeties” to replace Italians was wrong and should rightfully be condemned, but it is clear that the news editors were using this statement as an opportunity to skew the public perception of the workers, in line with what many politicians and other newspaper commentators have been saying. Leaving the inaccurate portrayal of the
support for extreme groups, political or otherwise. The anti-fascist magazine “Searchlight” reported in the same month that the BNP expected to gain from the recession, quoting the BNP treasurer saying, “Economic meltdowns are one of the drivers of political revolutions, and the BNP must be ready to take advantage of the mess all the of the other parties have made of the economy.” It is not hard to see why the Home Office and the BNP believe this. The period after World War I is increasingly being compared to the current crisis (though somewhat prematurely). The post war period was also the era of political extremism in Europe, often with racist and
contract are using European Union laws to ignore local pay deals and employing people, regardless of nationality, below hard fought union pay deals. This is not the fault of Total nor the company, IREM, who won the contract. It is an that the government in this country should assess, as they are the ones entrusted to make sure the electorate and taxpayers are properly considered. If the issue is essentially concerned with minimum wage being incompatible with local union pay, then perhaps that matter needs to be carefully reviewed. Shirking responsibility by condemning the aggrieved is not constructive. Gordon Brown was correct in extolling
and that xenophobia is treated seriously and not as a smear to decry genuine recourse. The dangers of parties of the far right (or far left, for that matter) should be taken seriously and not be used as a political or theoretical tool. If the BNP wins in the upcoming European elections then the fault will lie with the government as much as with those tricked by their seemingly converted public face. We should be working with those in Brussels to see that free market does not mean companies can exploit pay differences. Encouraging a situation where Nick Griffin represents British constituents at the European Parliament is not likely to help that.
N O I A C R
15 The Beaver | 10 February 2009
Photo Illustration by Mike Carlson and Chun Han Wong
It’s the economy, Gordon I
Estelle Cooch wants political action and worker solidarity to fight recession and the far right t is not the first time that the slogan Party (UKIP) and others to realise that, regulations that cap working hours or imand government rhetoric may not always ‘British Jobs for British Workers’ has It is only by sadly, the defining element behind most prove working conditions has arisen, New appear ‘explicitly’ racist, they contribute to been chanted by workers on picket of the strikes is immigration. The BNP Labour ministers have rejected it. a tone around immigration discourse that lines fearing for their jobs. Sadly, it claimed on their website last week that Instead, over the past twenty years suggests immigrants and asylum seekers attacking the will probably not be the last. it was proud to be “the only party which we have seen the gradual privatisation of are a problem that needs to be tackled, The slogan was first encouraged by unequivocally stands for the rights of Britbasic welfare services and an increase in rather than focusing on government policy Oswald Mosley-Leader of the British system of ish workers” and this was “a great day for the subcontraction of jobs. Subcontracting that has shifted jobs away from the manuUnion of Fascists in the 1930s, to justify British nationalism”. firms - those that carry out a particular facturing industry and destroyed basic attacks on Jewish immigrants to the East Likewise, UKIP chose to capitalise on part of a project in an attempt to reduce welfare services. subcontracting End of London. It emerged again during the strikes by claiming ‘It’s not British jobs costs - are usually huge multinationals Since the Thatcher government, the the 1970s in an attempt to force black and for British workers, it’s British taxes for who take workers on as self-employed, in move away from manufacturing jobs has itself that we can anomy.effortIn effect, Asian workers out of their jobs. Since then foreign workers’. The fact that immito produce a multi-layered econbeen justified by the explanation that it has re-emerged time and time again, grants contribute 10 per cent more to the as the number of supposBritain was becoming a global financial whenever dissatisfied workers reach the economy in tax and national insurance edly ‘self-employed’ workers increases, so centre. As another bank seems to collapse seriously fi ght wrong conclusion of the causes of uncompared to what they receive in benefits does the opportunity to decrease wages every day, one must begin to question the employment, with foreign workers being and services seems to be irrelevant to and working conditions and abandon any logic of a system where the long-term goal exploitation in scapegoated as a result. UKIP. Similarly, three times as many responsibility towards holiday leave, sick remains profit, rather than the welfare of The most recent unofficial strikes British workers leave the UK to work in leave and pension rights. ordinary people. that have swept Britain’s oil refineries the European Union, compared with the To blame foreign workers for accepting There is no reason for ordinary people all sectors of the and power stations involved over 2,000 number of EU workers entering Britain jobs in subcontractor firms is to miss the to be unemployed in this country. The colworkers. In the Sellafield Nuclear Plant in - another fact conveniently glossed over point completely; they face worse rates of lapse of the banks proves the government British Cumbria, there was a meeting of over 600 by those wishing to capitalise on antiexploitation than most unionised British will intervene to save jobs when it is in workers in the car park to discuss strike immigrant feeling. workers. their interests to do so. As global warming action. The initial walk-outs at Lindsey It is worth remembering at this point It is only by attacking the system of and the destruction of our environment workforce Refinery in North Lincolnshire came after that it was Gordon Brown who first subcontracting itself, engaging with the continues to worsen, why can the governprotests at the arrival of 200 Italian and Portuguese staff, who were awarded a large construction contract in favour of British workers. This has since sparked “sympathy strikes” and unofficial walkouts at twenty-one other plants across Britain. When one considers the impotence of British trade unionism since the 1980s, these numbers are without doubt remarkable. Many media commentators, trade union leaders and politicians have portrayed the walk-outs as an example of solidarity between British workers - the like of which we have not seen in years. Derek Simpson, joint leader of the largest Trade Union in Britain claimed ‘The unofficial action taking place across the UK is not about race or immigration, it’s about class.’ I wish I could agree with Derek Simpson, but one only has to consider the elated reaction of the British National Party, the United Kingdom Independence
pledged ‘British jobs for British workers’ in June 2007. Indeed, in recent years we have seen all major British political parties slowly shift more and more to the right in an attempt to outdo each other at the severity of their stance on immigration. As we plunge headlong into the worst recession, at least since the 1970s, the negative effects of the anti-immigration rhetoric espoused by New Labour and Conservative ministers is going to become frighteningly apparent. The debate over British involvement within the EU and the problems that the ‘free-market’ has created for British workers is at the heart of the recent strikes. Again, this considers the issue from the wrong angle. The problem with Britain and the EU is not one of nationality, but rather the imposition of neo-liberal regulations on EU countries that have reduced the rights of all workers to the benefit of employers. Whenever the opportunity to sign British workers up to positive EU
foreign workers involved, unionising them and building solidarity that we can seriously fight exploitation in all sectors of the British workforce. Had the strikes been about subcontracting, job cuts or factory closures, it is likely that Gordon Brown would have been forced to act quickly, yet the divisive nature of the ‘British jobs for British workers’ slogan let the real culprits - subcontracting multinationals - off the hook, allowing for the continued exploitation of those workers. While Gordon Brown was quick to distance himself from the slogan (although advocating it only two years previously), unless we see a real shift in government rhetoric around immigration and asylum, the underlying racism in the recent strikes will no doubt re-emerge as the recession gets worse. One cannot claim that ‘immigrants should adopt British norms of acceptability’ and at the same time wonder why votes for the BNP have increased four-fold since 2001. While media stories
ment not invest money into creating jobs building renewable energy resources? The recession is not going to go away any time soon, the living conditions of working people are going to get worse alongside increased job cuts and if the wrong conclusions are drawn about the crisis, the popularity of racist parties like the BNP will continue to grow. Britain has a proud multiracial history and likewise one of fighting the lies peddled by fascist parties. The solution is not to blame British workers, nor is it to blame foreign workers, but rather to blame those at the top of the global financial system who have caused this crisis. It is unlikely that they will be feeling the strain of the recession anytime soon. Only collective resistance and solidarity between all workers, regardless of nationality, can begin to challenge the system that brought us into this mess.
16 The Beaver | 10 February 2009
Flickr user steve punter
The price of peace Devika Menon wonders if an end is truly within sight for the war-weary Sri Lankans hree long decades of incessant peace talks, and fighting resumed in the now battling for control of shrinking Tiger evacuated and receiving a guarantee from fighting, and the civil war in Sri Tamil heartlands north of the country territory. Both sides show a shocking inthe government that non-combatants will “there is an Lanka finally seems to be on its where most of the war has been concendifference towards the plight of these peo- be unharmed are the safest actions that last legs – or so they say. Never trated. ple, with neither willing to hazard a short can be taken, given the political tensions underlying before has the Sri Lankan army The government’s unwillingness to ceasefire period to allow evacuation of and complications. The government is been so close to victory, having captured accept nothing less than an unconditional the region. The government’s rationale is already accusing certain organisations of three rebel strongholds in the Northeast surrender and the complete destruction that the rebels will (as they have certainly exaggerating numbers and favouring the feeling that this since January. of the LTTE, coupled with the Tigers’ done before) use the ceasefire period to Tigers. It has been a good couple of months resilience and their refusal to settle for regroup and plan further attacks, which The end of the war may be near, with will not be the in terms of propaganda for President anything but freedom and sovereignty, they cannot afford at this stage. They also rebel-held territory shrinking fast (they Mahinda Rajapaksa, who came to office in has brought the situation to a dead end. claim that civilians cannot expect protecnow hold just 200 square kilometres), but 2005 after his promise to end the war once Is “victory” really within reach, as the tion outside government-established safe the future of the people and the country end of the and for all. On a superficial level, he seems government believes? Or will the rebels zones. On the rebel side, claims that civilas a whole still looks hazy. In the capital to be keeping this pledge, but does the end bounce back from this all-time low, as ians are being used as human shields and Colombo, while some are excited over the conflict” of the war really guarantee a decisive and they have done so many times before? are thus prevented from escaping have not prospect of victory, a source living in city,
complete end to a 30 year-old conflict? And does the promise of an ‘imminent victory’ justify the alleged human rights abuses that have the international community in a frenzy? It is perhaps apt to consider the background behind this seemingly endless and complicated conflict. The civil war between the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam (LTTE), or simply the ‘Tamil Tigers’, and the mostly Sinhalese government began in the late 1970s when various forms of discrimination towards Tamils escalated. The LTTE demanded a separate Tamil state, and to this day claim they will not rest until they receive a ‘guarantee of living with freedom and dignity and sovereignty’. A bitter war ensued between the army and the Tigers, unperturbed by sporadic international efforts at ceasefires and peace talks. The inauguration of Rajapaksa in 2005 saw the end of the 2002
Very little has been said from the side of the Tamil Tigers after their recent losses, but their spokesman seemed, at least on the surface, unfazed, and did not believe that this is the end of the road for their hard-fought cost. The issue has persisted for too long and is rooted too deep into Sri Lankan society to be resolved with a military victory. It may, hopefully, be a significant stepping stone towards an eventual solution – but only if followed by adequate and careful diplomacy. A second-year Sinhalese student believes that a government victory can solve the conflict, but said “the government will have to keep a watchful eye to prevent LTTE rearming themselves. During the ceasefire in 2004, this is exactly what happened.” Caught between the rebel group and the determined government are 250,000 innocent civilians, who have no chance of escaping the Northeast where the army is
been clarified; independent journalists are not allowed near the war zones. However, the thousands trapped between the two sides are undoubtedly and desperately trying to escape, with a group of 2500 having done so in the past few days. International humanitarian organisations are expressing increasing concerns about the trapped civilians, who, among other things, are now experiencing food crises. The UN World Food Programme has not been able to get supplies across to the war-hit areas for nearly a month. Convoys sent out to investigate the situation have left, claiming their investigations were interrupted and inhibited and ultimately, ineffective. It seems that the international community is doing all that it can at the moment without further aggravating the situation. Increasing pressure for peace talks in order for the innocents to be
who does not want to be named, says that “there is the underlying feeling that this will not be the end of the conflict”. Mistrust among Tamils may still fester, leading to the formation of new groups, and worse still there is the fear that the LTTE will not go down without an attack on the capital. Colombo is fiercely guarded by the army but it may be a last ditch attempt by the rebels, when they have absolutely nothing left to lose. Indeed, the end of this war maybe the beginning of a new Cold War-esque situation within the country. If the army does prevail in the next few days as is prophesied, it will be a significant victory for President Rajapaksa, who would go down in history as the figure who ended a war that many believed could not be won. But at what cost?
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From Right to Left: the political columns Hayek
Auntie Beeb doesn’t know best
nce again the BBC appears to have got itself into a right mess. After the enormous row over the behaviour of Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand, they’re back at the task of creating their own chaos. This time it has been with Carol Thatcher, daughter of the former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher. It is reported that, within the privacy of the green room after filming an episode of The One Show, on which Thatcher served as a roaming reporter, she described a tennis player they had been watching on television as a “golliwog”. After a period of back and forth between the BBC people, who leaked the comment to the press, and Thatcher’s agent, a full apology came from Carol for any unintended offence caused by her thoughtless remark. Her agent toured around television and radio stations saying: “Carol is mortified that anyone should take offence at a silly joke. She has summarily apologised.” However this was not enough to satisfy the Beeb and they later confirmed that Thatcher had been sacked from her job at the show for not apologising for her comments sooner.
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The state that the BBC has got itself into with these kind of incidents has got to a ridiculous point, but the way that Carol Thatcher has been treated is particularly terrible, considering a number of other ‘incidents’ that the corporation has dealt with along these lines. Thinking back to the Ross/Brand row. The comments they left on an individual’s answer phone were directly rude, insulting and disrespectful to him and his family, yet it is noticeable that Ross got away with a short period of suspension and is now back and bold as ever. The difference between Ross and Thatcher is that his remarks were directly harmful and anyone could see they were so, and there was plenty of time for him to stop and reconsider his actions, which he clearly failed to do. While it is not in any way acceptable to refer to people as looking like golliwogs, and I entirely agree with London mayor Boris Johnson’s view that the journalist’s use was offensive, we are children of an enlightened age. Given the time that Thatcher grew up, when ‘Golly’ still appeared on Robinson’s jam and golliwogs were still very much around in popular culture, one can at least comprehend how someone could make such an unpleasant
slip up. Carol did this, but apologised for the remark and has no history of making other offensive comments. While this does not entirely absolve her of all guilt in her bad choice of words, it should be taken as an apology. This is in contrast to Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles and the BBC’s hypocrisy in its handling of his behaviour. He has been surrounded by controversies regarding sexism, a number of homophobic remarks and comments in poor taste about Auschwitz. However, the BBC has come to Moyles’ defence each time. If the BBC is going to take the unforgiving line that it has taken with Carol Thatcher we must demand at the very least that a level of consistency in its treatment of other staff. Yet I believe that the corporation is heading down a very slippery road, and I fear that if they applied the Thatcher standard on regretful comments across the board, the BBC would see a culling of presenters. We must stamp out racist, homophobic, and other offensive uses of language, but doing so by generating these unpleasant rows does not seem the best way to do it.
Time is ripe to fight the far right
ascism is a clear and present danger across the world today. Fascists everywhere are looking to benefit from the economic crisis and the ideological confusion it has sowed in communities threatened by mass unemployment, poverty and uncertainty. Witness the elation with which the British National Party welcomed the mass wildcat strikes at oil refineries and power plants last week. A common slogan displayed by strikers demanded ‘British jobs for British workers’. The BNP applauded the action and called on workers to join its trade union, called Solidarity. The BNP is no longer a marginal force in British politics. Having won a seat in the London Assembly last May, it hopes to win a London seat in the European Parliament in spring of this year. Richard Barnbook won the London Assembly seat for the far right group, after a campaign in which he said that “parts of our capital city are coming to resemble a dangerous and grotty third-world town”. What kind of person will they put forward as a candidate for Member of European Parliament? The problem is wider than the BNP
though. Economic crises usually sow ideological confusion in all spheres of life and among all social groups. When the regularity of everyday life is upset by a new situation with no clear rules of behaviour, the door is wide open for ideologies and movements which promise order and identity in the face of adversity. Anyone who grew up in 1990s Serbia will know, the mass delirium thrown up around religious or national mythology, widespread respect for astrologers and clairvoyants, the prominence of mafiosi in urban life, and the emergence of new pop art forms appealing to base human emotions, in times of economic collapse and wartime. (Sentence doesn’t end). The rise of the far right then, often sponsored by the state apparatus itself, is impossible without a pre-existing milieu that prevents the activities of such groups to be perceived as beyond the pale. Serbia, though, is just one illustration I am acquainted with at first hand. What about the flourishing of the American evangelical movement under the shadow of Reaganomics? What about the rise of Dugin Eurasianism to celebrity in Yeltsin’s Russia? Let us not forget the latest scandal to
hit the Vatican. Bishop Richard Williamson, excommunicated in 1988 for being consecrated without papal approval, had his excommunication lifted by Pope Benedict XVI last month, despite having expressing controversial views on the Holocaust in an interview with Swedish television in November. All of these examples show that the ground is ready for the emergence of a militant far right. That is why, when Michael Rock, national chair of Conservative Future, gives off the appearance of being more interested in defining the BNP as ‘left wing’ fascists than in backing campaigns against fascism and racism, we should be more than worried. The left has a glorious and unparalleled history in combating fascism. Perhaps no more is necessary to back this claim than to bring up the International Brigades and fight against fascism in Spain in the 1930s. Closer to home, we have shown how vibrant and powerful a multinational, multiracial and multicultural movement can be in the form of the anti-war movement. It is surely a better launching pad for the fight against the recession than vile racism and militant nationalism.
The Beaver | 10 February 2009
Viridian A tale of a pesticide and unnecessary evil Justus Rollin Environment and Ethics officer Despite decades of health and environmental controversy, pesticides are still widely used and remain highly controversial. The one pesticide that has evoked the greatest deluge of public and scientific debate and criticism is DDT. First developed in the late Nineteenth century, it became widely used as “effective” insecticide in the 1940s and 1950s. Soon, questions over its impact on health and wildlife were raised. But it was not until the publication of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” in 1962 did the public and policy makers become fully aware of the impending crisis. Countries began responding to the DDT threat. Hungary led the way, banning the chemical in 1968, followed by others such as the United States in 1972. In 2004, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants banned among other pesticides DDT – allowing only a restricted use in disease vector control. The chemical is still regarded, controversially, by many as an effective mean for malaria control. Surely, they argue, malaria is a disease that far too many people around the world are left vulnerable to, and DDT represents a necessary evil to save lives. According to the World Health Organisation, there are around 250 million malaria cases each year, resulting in about a million deaths – 90 per cent of them in Africa, with the majority of victims being children below five years of age. While DDT was banned primarily for its negative impact on ecosystems and animals, research has also linked DDT to human diseases, such as breast cancer and other fatal illnesses. It bio-accumulates in fat tissues of humans and animals alike. DDT can even be found in polar bears as well as in breast milk of mothers in Europe (where it had been long banned) and Africa (where it is still widely used), often at levels far exceeding the safe limits of DDT for infants. Apart from the health and environmental implications, DDT’s effectiveness against mosquitoes is merely temporary: mosquitoes will eventually become resistant to this toxic pesticide! In India for example, the use of DDT led to an initial decrease in malaria cases from 6.5 million to 50,000 cases per year, however the amount of cases has gone up to 6.5 million again due to mosquitoes developing a resistance for DDT. The use of DDT in fighting malaria is a contentious issue, since Western environmentalists are often excused of green imperialism, while there are other urgent issues that many developing countries have to deal with. However, ignoring the health implication of DDT and not looking for other possibilities to control malaria, such as biological control, is barely acceptable. Moreover, it is still mainly chemical corporations from the rich north who are profiting from the sale of DDT – so the true winners in the game of deadly pesticides are hardly the potential victims of malaria.
The battle between our best instincts
ith the LSE Not for Profit campaign gaining steam; collecting 450 signatures on a letter to Howard Davies against the “decline in quality and unethical treatment of the LSE”, it is perhaps apt to note that in the 2007-8 session, there were 8,777 full time students at the LSE. Leaving out the parttime students, this makes the 450 signatures, while a valiant effort, still merely 5 per cent of the school’s populace. The sentiment behind this campaign is noble, and what it is fighting for is something that all students at the LSE or any other institution should desire – putting the student experience at the heart of decision making, receiving a holistic education and not merely a brand name on a piece of paper, and a socially responsible investment policy, amongst other things. Despite the idealistic strain of thought behind the campaign – why just 5 per cent of the student population? Is there a trade-off that we as students, and many people around the world, have to accept? Yes, we do not study in the most homely of campuses in the country; yes,
we do not receive the best teaching despite the amount that we pay for our education (particularly international students) - but perhaps the primary reason behind the lack of mass support for the campaign is that ultimately that the average LSE student does not really care. More than just a matter of apathy, however, perhaps the brand-driven education that we receive at the LSE is all that most of the students really desire. The unyielding debate between pragmatism and idealism seems to have a particular significance here. Many LSE students complain affectionately about the school, but are never driven enough to do anything about their little grievances. They feel that ultimately, they have gotten what they came for – it is undeniable that the LSE brand name carries you rather far in the working world, and that it is one of the best universities in terms of employability. Despite how the current economic crisis may have hurt every sector imaginable, there have been tales of LSE students rejecting job offers and internships from investment banks or various prestigious law firms.
Similarly, many countries and societies have willingly accepted their limited political and civil freedoms as long as they have a degree of affluence and prosperity. Intangible merits such as these, or moral and ethical concerns like those that LSE Not For Profit are championing, are usually secondary concerns. The clamour for political freedoms and rights are usually born when economic structures start to collapse, or when affluence is so prevalent that there is nothing to risk with social unrest. This is definitely the case in Singapore – most people are willing to accept government restrictions on press freedom and the freedom of speech as long, as they continue to prosper economically and maintain their relatively high standards of living. Again the precedence of pragmatic concerns seems to withstand the inner idealism and yearning for intangible gratifications. Of course, this is not necessarily the right attitude. I once met a French student in an international conference, who told me that Singapore, Hong Kong, and similar territories do not deserve to be called “countries” as they lack a certain spirit
that is a precondition for being a “citizen”. According to him, if all the populace is concerned about is money and prosperity, they do not and cannot encompass the full “spirit” of what it means to belong to a nation. Unduly critical as this may be, he did have somewhat of a point. This sounds familiar; many times I have heard students at the LSE lament that this school hardly feels like a school, but an institution that merely prepares you for the corporate, working world and adult life. Whatever an individual’s view on these individual campaigns such as LSE Not for Profit and the broader issue of student, even political and civil rights, we have to concede that it is necessary to have groups that fight for something more – however unattainable this may be. If all of us give in to pragmatism and settle for the tangible too often and too easily, we will lose any hope of bettering our existence. As long as we still have our youth, we must never let idealism die.
Shibani Mahtani Features Editor
18 The Beaver | 10 February 2009
A foibe memorial in Trieste. Flickr user pollabarca2.
Timely ode of remembrance F
Giorgio Daniele Lizzul relates the nearly-lost memory of the tragic ‘foibe’ killings in Istria or Italians, 10 February marks Italians were regarded as fascists, and Italy. the Italian Communist party, who had for the National Memorial Day of under the cover of the liberation and resis- Most people The situation of the Istrian Italians was decades tried to cover up the massacres Exiles and the Foibe - a date for tance movements, a policy of violence and further exacerbated by the Italian governas fascist propaganda and only recently the remembrance of the victims ethnic cleansing began to emerge against ment’s inability to negotiate seriously for began to acknowledge the atrocities. would be of the ‘foibe’ massacres and the Italians, fascists and non-fascists alike. the protection of its eastern population. In However this new interest in the ‘foibe’ exiles of Istria and the Julian provinces The term ‘foibe’ has now become an fact, it spent more time at the 1946 Paris massacres and the subsequent exodus are Italy’s former Dalmatian territories. forgiven for not peace infamous one to many from Istria. The conference trying to negotiate the also seen as an attempt by Italian far right Sixty-two years ago, the fate of ‘foibe’ are best described as naturally ocsaving of Italy’s North and East African to mask the many fascist atrocities which 350,000 Italian Istrians and Dalmatians curring underground chasms with small, colonies as well as the maintenance of its had befallen the other half of the populaknowing this was sealed as the Allied forces drew up the often obscured, entrances on the ground navy, rather than protecting and securing tion under Mussolini, and tarnish the new post-war borders. Italy lost the vast surface, but descend hundreds of metres the future of many of its citizens. legacy of the resistance movements which little-mentioned majority of Istria and all of its Dalmatian into the Earth. ‘Foibe’ are extremely After negotiations failed to even secure helped overthrow the fascists and Nazis territories to the newly formed Socialist prevalent throughout Istria, and gained the future of Italian-dominated Istrian from Istria. Unsurprisingly, this move coFederal Republic of Yugoslavia, ending their notoriety during the period from cities in the post-war period, the exodus incided with recent attempts by the Italian piece of post-war decades of Slavic nationalist aspirations 1943 to 1947 when they were accorded the began. Cities experienced large decreases right to mask Italy’s dark fascist past. for these provinces. new function - mass graves for thousands in their populace; Pula saw 30,000 of its Political contentions aside, what history Most people would be forgiven for not of Istrians, who met their end in these 34,000 population leave. To avoid the progress and developments have there knowing this little-mentioned piece of deep abysses as retribution for twenty permanent reminder of the loss of the been for the Italian Istrian immigrants? post-war history. In fact, many Italians would struggle to even place Istria on a map, let alone remember these events. Istria, a small peninsula surrounded by the Adriatic sea and flanked by Italy to the west and Croatia to the east, has traditionally been seen as Italy’s easternlymost province. The region has has long been home to an ethnically-mixed population, which prior to the Second World War was split between Istrian Italians and Croatians, each comprising roughly half of the population. With the demise of fascist Italy and the Italian Social Republic, the aftermath of fascist policies, the likes of forced ‘Italianisation’ and the repression of the Slavic population, gave rise to severe reprisals against the Istrian and Dalmatian Italians.
years of fascist rule. Some were guilty of collaboration with the fascists, but many were not. The indiscriminate nature of the killing was perhaps best highlighted by the killing of Communist Italian Istrians, who, despite having previously fought alongside their Slavic Istrian brothers to overthrow the forces of fascism under Tito’s Partisan forces, were dealt the same fate as collaborators were. An estimated 10,000 to 30,000 Istrian Italians were executed in the foibe, but it is likely that the exact numbers will never be known. The killings were performed in an extremely brutal manner; victims were tortured, raped and mutilated before being thrown into the ‘foibe’, often while still alive. The violence and intimidation that emanated from the Slavic reprisals led to many Italians leaving their homeland for
Julian territories, Istrian exiles dispersed themselves across Italy, and eventually throughout the world. Following the exodus, decades of silence dominated the Italian political spectrum on the Istrian question, with the exception of neo-fascist parties who still maintained claims for the Julian provinces. In 1975, Italy finally ended all claims to the lost territories of Istria and the issue began to decline in significance and interest. This changed, however, in 2005 when Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition government introduced a national memorial day on the 10 February with the backing of the majority of political parties. The introduction of the day of remembrance was met with support even from many of the descendant parties of
With Croatia’s hopes for entry into the European Union, there has been increased impetus for an overhaul of restrictive laws that prohibit Italians from buying property in Istria. The property market there had been closed internationally, so as to discourage a ‘resettlement’ of the land by Italians. The new property liberalisation will allow many Istrian exiles to return and re-acquire land they had lost. Furthermore, the recognition of Istria as a dual-language area has helped a process of acceptance emerge over the area’s history and mixed cultural heritage. Yet the Italian community in Istria, now comprising no more than 7 per cent of the Istrian population, will forever remain a shadow of its former pre-war self - a visible testament to the ravages of ethnic cleansing.
19 10 February 2009 | The Beaver
Fashionable hyperreality “There’s a credit crunch, not a creative crunch.” - John Galliano
Flickr user Ammar Abd Rabbo
Ashmi Kunde pays tribute to the art of couture
nce upon a time, there was a palatial white room where every pillar and banister was adorned with paper roses, magnolias and camellias. The guests waited expectantly, in an atmosphere scented with anticipation and too much expensive perfume. And then they appeared: A stream of beautiful princesses, descending into the room to the sound of an enchanting melody. They were dressed in the 65 pristine creations of Karl Lagerfeld, immaculately cut and embellished with lace, crystals and sequins. And each girl wore upon her head a magnificent floral tiara, entirely hand-crafted from ordinary copy paper by Japanese hairdresser Katsuya Kamo. Welcome to Chanel’s haute couture showing, considered “the most magical show” of Paris Couture Week 2009, the biannual fashion phenomenon which took place last week. Don’t let your mind dwell too much upon how such a theatrical performance can be termed a ‘fashion show’, or even how such a thing is being staged in such depressing financial times. Leave all practicality and reality at the door, for these are the realms of the crème de la crème of fashion. Haute couture (literally, ‘high dressmaking’) traditionally refers to one-of-akind, luxurious garments, meticulously made using the most time-consuming of methods. Ever since its formal establishment, the label of ‘couture’ could only be used by fashion houses who met the criteria of the ‘Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture’. Today, these rules of exclusivity still
exist, but the definition of couture has changed. Now the essence of this world lies more in its ability to pull apart the threads of realism and hand sew them into sheer fantasy. Couture aspires to be something, anything, everything unimaginable. It is visible and tangible proof of how fabrics can be designed, decorated and draped on the human form to create something extraordinary. It would be foolish to search for only fashion in haute couture. Which is why, for me, couture is nothing short of art. This year I watched the Christian Dior show, which was inspired by Flemish paintings, in awe. The models emerged from behind huge stained glass screens and sashayed down the runway in yards of silk and satin. I envied those models for having the touch of a John Galliano garment against their skin. Each and every one of those dream-like dresses left me spellbound. It’s only once the curtains fell that I remembered the fact that I will never have the money, figure or occasion to wear such masterpieces. Upon leaving this fairytale world, practicality and reality came back to remind me that we are facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Undoubtedly high fashion spells out even higher prices. So how does the market for haute couture still exist? They say if you ask the price of something, you can’t afford it. Which is probably why the buyers and sellers involved in the business don’t seem to question the sky-high expenses involved. And the shocking thing is, the outfits actually need to have some of those extra zeros on their
price tags. It may seem ludicrous to fork out £50, 000 for a Chanel couture gown, but this includes (amongst a range of other things) the cost of at least 800 hours of dress-making, including the laborious task of individually embroidering on each pearl and sequin, and hand-cutting leaves and flowers to trim the hems. And then come the price of the ostentatious displaying of these clothes. The Dior show cost £2 million to put together. Perhaps an astounding sum of money for us, but clearly not for the fashion house, which has seen annual sales increases of 35 per cent since 2007. Chanel has declared a 20 per cent escalation in sales from last year and is expecting a further increase for 2009. Forecasters at Givenchy also see a 20 per cent increase in sales for 2009. But where are these sales coming from? Who generates the demand for this supply of high fashion? The limited number of high end consumers. This whole industry lies in the hands of these few hundred extremely rich people whose bank accounts keep them on safe distant shores, whilst the rest of the world drowns in economic despair. Last year, despite a loss in clientele from the States, it was the newly-rich customers from the Middle East, Russia and China who kept the demand alive. There is this eternal existence of ultra-rich consumers, who are willing to forego the purchase of a small house in exchange for a single item on clothing, which will probably see the light of day (or the flash of cameras) a single time. As much as I would desperately love to have my wardrobe bursting at the seams
with Dior, I am only a mere mortal – a student living in London, whose current fashion mantra is along the lines of ‘recessionista chic’. I frequently scour high street stores for that rare combination of something attractive and affordable. As the effects of the credit crunch spread far and wide, I feel guilty about my own (often excessive) fashion purchases, and frequently end up crossing off clothing items from my shopping list. So, despite having just openly declared my love for the dream works, I find something slightly distasteful in the fact that certain people are still able to spend an average person’s annual salary on one garment. Especially when that average person probably lost that salary, due to one of the 76,000 job cuts that happened during the very same week as Paris Couture. The couture industry is anything but on the brink of ruin. And it’s making it globally evident in the most expensive of ways possible. Haute couturiers have even been compared to Marie Antoinette, for giving the impression of declaring, “If there are no clothes, then let them wear couture!” Personally, I don’t see it quite that way. It is doubtful that fashion designers are so wrapped up in their creativity that they remain completely oblivious to obvious current affairs. Perhaps they just believe that those affairs have less so to do with them. If couture is made as a form of creative expression, displayed to maintain the prestige of the fashion house, and sold because a client held a whimsy of being adorned in luxury, then where does the outside world come into the equation? Does the industry really need to tone down its decadence to mourn for dearly departed financial institutions? Are we right in making critical, cynical comments? Or are we merely casting our jealous eyes on this market which is still untainted by the darkness of economic downturn? Like I said, couture is art. And like all other art forms, is it an escape from reality, with no rules and no budget constraints. “There’s a credit crunch, not a creative crunch,” said John Galliano, after his flamboyant Dior show. “Of course, everyone is being more careful with their discretionary purchases. I am. But it’s our job to make people dream.” Translating these dreams into reality continues to be an expensive hobby, but art and business are two sides of the same glittering coin of couture. The undeniable truth is that the dismal economic circumstances have spelled anything but ‘The End’ to the world of couture. And so it continues to live happily, fashionably, expensively ever after.
Reduce, Re-use, Relove! Harriet Jackson has a slightly different take on fashion See the crazy blonde girl handing out folders for free on Houghton Street? Or the rails of clothes for sale in the Quad a few weeks ago? These events were both organised by ReLove, a group created to promote the reuse of anything that would otherwise go to waste. Hopefully you already know that our society wastes a huge amount of perfectly usable goods. But did you know that LSE has created its very own group to promote the reuse of all manner of goods? ReLove is just one of the six groups that form Sustainable LSE Consulting, a student group created by LSE to generate achievable solutions to create an environmentally conscious community. The other groups’ missions include collecting unwanted goods from halls, promoting reusable mugs and coordinating less wasteful printing at LSE. The first ReLove event of the year was a joint Clothes Swap with People and Planet. This did not entail stripping in the Quad, as some people thought, but exchanging old clothes (or buying for a nominal 50p). Be they clothes that you had eaten too many pies to squeeze into anymore, or merely ones which you felt belonged with Take That in the 1990s, there will surely be another person at LSE who would appreciate them more than your bin. With clothing brands like Topshop, Zara and FCUK on our racks, there were plenty of bargains! This event was followed with an old folder sale. Hundreds of ring-binders were due to be sent to landfill after being discarded by various parts of the LSE administration. Fortunately, ReLove stepped in to redistribute them to the students of LSE, who may not be needy but can always consume more. Retail prices for a thick ring binder are usually around £2-3, but ReLove was selling them for a fantastically cheap 10p, and even started giving them away for an optional donation. The biggest cost incurred was the dignity of the sellers on Houghton Street as they resorted to desperate measures to get attention. Check out our website for more details at www.doyourelove.blogspot.com . Join our ‘Reduce, Re-use, ReLove’ fun by coming to our future events. Miss them, miss out!
The gap yawns wide, the toll rises high Alizeh Kohari gently prods the LSE conscience, to pull more weight behind a good cause
t is easy to forget, walking along the Thames, that there are other rivers in the world. Rivers less mighty, less voluminous - rivers that are now, in fact, mere trickles on arid stretches of land. It is just as easy to forget, in the flurry of black business suits and the symphony of clacking heels, that life exists outside the streets of Central London – that in Africa, little girls with matted hair and bloated bellies suck on their fists and watch their mothers scavenge for food; that in India, young boys play cricket on the streets, using bamboo sticks hammered hastily into the ground as wickets It is easy to forget all this, and entirely natural to do so. Perhaps this forgetting business is a necessary mechanism, for how is one to function otherwise? Poverty. com, records the number of hunger deaths
every hour; try doing your Econ. problem set with that hunger-death-list growing longer with every demand curve you draw. (48 minutes into the hour, the number figures at eight hundred and fourteen – no.815: Birendra Khan, no.816: Mr. Akili Oluwu, no.817: Celina Lima …) Meeting the deadline becomes that much more difficult. However, it won’t do to keep one’s head firmly underground, either. (No.832: Ms.Beatrice Sousa). The gap yawns wide between the haves and the have-nots of this world. The UN Millennium Development goals crumble to nothingness as 2015 approaches; development initiatives take a hit in this new financial-crisis-ridden world. Amidst all this, the Development Society here at the LSE seeks to create a little awareness and trigger a little
action amongst its student population. What do we do? A little of this, a little of that. There are movie screenings and informal discussions on developmentcentered topics – we make sure that the coffee we sip during heated debates is of the Fairtrade variety. There are talks and seminars and panel discussions on different development topics. We urge our members to attend development initiatives outside of the LSE, in London and beyond – in Warwick, in Oxford, in Cambridge. We raise funds for our adopted charities – Hope for Children and UYDO. Then there is Development Week, an annual fixture - all proceeds, of course, go to the adopted NGOs. Interested in a career in development? Make sure you attend the upcoming Development Career Fair in conjunction with the LSE Careers Service.
There is a certain degree of moral dogma that tends to accompany any discussion on why a career in development is, or should be, a lucrative idea: a gentleman of some prominence in this field, when asked why he gravitated towards development in the first place, huffed and puffed a little, sighed dramatically, raised his eyes heavenwards, then answered: ‘I saw the poverty around me, the utter, hopeless poverty, the naked little children, and thought to myself ‘there, but for the grace of God, go I.’ I knew I had to play my part somehow.” This gentleman’s instinct, one of empathy, was essentially a good one, but we at the LSE SU Development Society take ourselves a little less seriously; hopefully, we’re a little less self-congratulatory. The yawning gap that spans the world in
terms of development is an imbalance that needs to be corrected, urgently, because there are human lives at stake (No. 912: Fanta Ngoyi). We’d like to help out in the correction of that balance, we’d like to help stave off Death No.913. Join us in our cause. It’s a good one.
Watch out for the Development Charity Auction next week, featuring Howard Davies, Aled Fisher, Ms. LSE and a host of other “celebrities”!
20 The Beaver | 10 February 2009
Photo: Cherie Leung
From underfed pups to opulent slumdogs Dhiraj Nainani from the Timeless team looks at the influence of the Indian film industry p until a few years ago, the The truth of the matter is that the team surprisingly, it was a massive hit in India. nomination (Water), Johnny Depp signterm ‘Bollywood’ conjured actively campaigned for as many people to For the Indian It also got an Oscar nomination for Best ing with Amitabh Bachan in Shantaram, up very specific images. The audition as possible, regardless of ethnicForeign Language Film: something that or Will Smith singing a Hindi song on instinctive reaction for the ity, as the show aimed to showcase the dihad not happened since Mother Earth. Indian Idol – Hollywood began listening, film industry Western world was to think versity of LSE. It just so happened that the Although the film did not win, it seems and listening hard. The recent success of of bright costumes, dancing and singing number of people of subcontinental origin that it spurred a movement that echoed Slumdog Millionaire has seen the best every second minute, and (of course) a at the auditions vastly outnumbered othto be associated not only in India but around the world. melange of international and domestic ‘kissing’ scene behind a tree. For those not In India, films began to take themselves ers; so please make sure you audition next efforts. Danny Boyle’s lovingly sensitive from the Indian subcontinent, the Indian year! And in the show itself, acts such as more seriously and began focusing on ‘real with the portrayal of human nature has won accofilm industry was seen as the somewhat the Garba, Raas or Nepalese performances life’ problems as opposed to escapism. lades in festivals and awards ceremonies eccentric cousin of other film industries: Films such as Rang De Basanti (‘Paint It worldwide; in India, music composer A.R. did not just have representatives from spectacle of light Rahman a harmless curiosity that occasionally those respective cultures in them – quite Yellow’) received a BAFTA Foreign Film has become an overnight symbol turned out a film worthy of attention (for the opposite. nomination; Black and Taare Zameen Par of India’s rising dominance on the global example, Mother India won the Academy So while acknowledging the influence (‘Stars on the Earth’) looked at physical stage. and song is not a Award for Best Foreign Language Film in of sub-continental culture, I would not and mental disabilities in a beautiful and The rising influence of Bollywood 1958), but which generally kept to itself, say the show itself was dominated by Bolsensitive manner; Aamir, Mumbai Meri can also be demonstrated on a smaller new concept by entertaining its billion-strong audience. lywood. Perhaps people were reminded Jaan (‘Mumbai My Love’) and A Wedneslevel, back at LSE. On Sunday 1 FebruOf course, this is quite a generalised of Bollywood films because this is the day looked at explaining the difference ary, the LSESU put on ‘Timeless 2009’, a statement, but it should be noted that this niche that the industry has carved out for between unnecessary racist incitement cultural show aimed at raising money for any means was the dominant viewpoint until quite itself, - and I’m very happy with that. For and genuine terrorism. Just a week ago, charity. The show was a smashing suc-
recently. Although there is no specific marker in terms of date, global perspectives towards Indian films have changed in a massive way. Bollywood, it seems, is here to stay. In my mind, it began in 2001. Lagaan (‘Land Tax’) was a film about a group of villagers under the rule of British Raj in the 1890s, who, upon protesting over an unfair land tax imposed on them, were told that the tax would be lifted if they beat the English at their own game – cricket. Implausible? In many ways, yes – but un-
Luck by Chance offered a satirical view at the Indian film industry itself. ‘Bollywood’, it seems, began to grow up. Internationally, especially in Europe, names such as Shahrukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Amitabh Bachan began seeping into regular households. Poland, Switzerland, Germany and Austria started offering subsidies to filmmakers wanting to shoot there, while simultaneously putting Hindi songs in clubs. International films and actors shifted their focus to India. Be it Deepa Mehta’s Foreign Film Oscar
Listings: This week
Tuesday 10th February
Thursday 12th February
Wednesday 11th February
Friday 13th February
Indian Food Festival Quad, 7 pm
The Argentinian and Politics societies present: Latin America in the wake of the global financial crisis: main challenges from an economic and social perspective Speakers: Alfonso Prat-Gay and Sergio Bergman D502, 6.15 pm “Backstabbing for Beginners – A Crash Course in International Diplomacy” Speaker: Michael Soussan E304, 7-9 pm BanglaSoc presents “Bangla Unplugged” - the best of modern Bangla music Underground Bar, 7-9.30pm
cess, and the 1500-strong sellout crowd at Sadler’s Wells theatre gave a lot of positive feedback. However, some suggested that despite having a neutral storyline (a fantasy tale akin to Homer’s Odyssey), the show possessed a very ‘Bollywoodish’ feel, as most of the performers were of Indian subcontinental origin and the expanse of colour, song and dance was reminiscent of a Bollywood film. While most loved the show, they felt that it had had more of a ‘subcontinental’ feel to it than a global one.
the Indian film industry to be associated with the spectacle of light and song is not a new concept by any means, but if it still holds true to this day, then it means that it has preserved its roots well enough for international audiences to see both the glamourous ‘spectacle’ side as well as its new maturity. That alone speaks of the successful evolution of the Indian film industry, and a sign for even better things to come. I can’t wait.
Social is the missing link --
Indian Sari Tying and Mehendi Quad, 12 noon Relove Folder Sale Houghton Street, 12-2pm Retro Bollywood Crush - 1940-2009 Quad, 8 pm - 1 am
Monday 16th February
The German Society presents: Global Governance Speaker: Professor Gesine Schwan – SPD Candidate for President of Germany Old Theatre, 6.30-7.30 pm
Help discover it. Email email@example.com
21 The Beaver | 10 February 2009
Cherie Leung and Zeeshan Malik captured moments from the annual LSE cultural show
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The Beaver | 10 February 2009
Objectification Take II: Mr. LSE
Fabulous Footy Females Words by Alice Pelton
Astrid Brown I call her the Olympic torch because she never goes out, but nonetheless our Scottish captain is on blinding form at the moment, loving her new position as a forward. She provided much entertainment for being the most drunk she’d ever been on the last night of the ski trip. Looked bloody good in her dress when she judged Mr LSE as well. Jade Buddenberg Co-captain and official mother-hen Jade has improved dramatically as a defender lately, never shying away from a decent challenge. She hosts a cracking annual Mexican night at her flat, where tequila comes as standard. Claims to have a boyfriend, although we’ve never met him, mysteriously. Abi Uglow This lovable rogue appears to have a personality transplant when under the influence of alcohol/on the pitch. Her shy and quiet demeanour harbours an incidious transformation into a chanting, bashing, screaming centre-back. Going to be sorely missed next year, as she’s definitely the hardest player on the field, and in our last match refused to let her injuries be known to the rest of the team. Janelle Braverman Played a full match against Holloway and had a great game. She’s In my top ten friendliest people in the world; wants to create her own chat-show. But she has a competitive side too. Bounded around Walkies last week with her standard drunken face smiling away. Loves peace signs, and still thinks its the nineties. Keina Yoshida This terrorising midfielder has yet to fully demonstrate any Irish drinking tendencies, although she takes after the (aptly named) Irish midfielder Stephen Ireland. Keina scored a solid goal against City this season, and has shown a lot of stamina on nights out. She’s one of those quieter drunks who unfortunately remembers most of the night, and relays it back to us.
Anna Moseley Moseley has become one my favourite people to have up my rear lately. She plays behind me on the right wing, and is unequivocally the best crosser on the team. Has talents for stealthlike queue jumping at Zoo/Walkies. Jess Bernhart Controversially often goes home just before we go to Zoo, leading to suspicions about some well-timed bootycalling back at her halls. Had a battle with the Holloway forwards last week and is one of our best defenders. Definitely our best performer in our regular games of British bull-dog and cat-and-mouse in training. Has a penchant for charity chuggers on the street, and solicitors who dabble in human rights.
Laura Ellis Constantly referred to as ‘that fit blonde you hang around with’, Laura and I share a love for laddish men (preferably those who work in a trade), double vodka and cranberry, and swearing too much. She’s a safeas-houses right back who occasionally comes to training dressed like a chav. But we still love her. Ida Ronning Deemed too short to join the Norwegian police force, Ida consoles herself by playing a cracking game in midfield and has proven herself to be a skillful addition to the team. Although she needs to stop apologising in training whenever other people clatter into her.
Allison Wold A clever midfielder who hacks away like a bullterrier. We missed her in our last game. Pulls comedy faces in photos and constantly says ‘you won’t’ and ‘nah uh’ in her American accent. Not out enough though. The second half of the Anna/Allison American double act.
Cheryl Conner Some might call her the unlucky one, currently residing between the posts. Does a fantastic warm up routine. Shown herself to be a dependable keeper, growing in confidence every game. Suspiciously quiet off the pitch, although that might because she keeps dressing up as a mime artist.
Elizabeth Hasberg Made some brilliant challenges when she came on as a substitute in the second half of our match against Holloway. Undoubtedly the most dedicated, she’s at training and fitness sessions come rain or shine, and seems to be adjusting well to the British drinking culture.
Debbie Karpay Quietly taken over Astrid’s position at left back and is having some cracking games. Another one of the quiet American contingent; gets stuck in on the pitch, but noticeably absent off the pitch. That’s apart from this one night, when she got absolutely hammered.
Luna Lopez Luna-’have sex with your ex so you don’t increase your number’Lopez has provided the team with many insights into British culture. On the winter weather she recently commented, ‘dude, no wonder The Smiths are so depressing, man.’ She’s a sexy ball-hogging Brazilian, and often gets told off for taking the ball around the same defender several times. Needs to learn how to drink properly if she’s going to keep up with Laura and I in Callella. Also needs to also stop complaining that she’s ‘too old’.
Precious Hamilton When not sat in EastLondon eating takeaways, this ex-Leicester ladies pro is our holding midfielder. She almost scored a b-e-a-u-tiful volley against Holloway last Sunday. Although she later admitted that ‘almost doesn’t count’, but at least it did scare their apathethic keeper, if only momentarily. Seems to know what she’s talking about on the pitch, and has good banter with the ref. In fact there hasn’t been a ref yet who hasn’t gone up to her after the match and commended her on her play.
How the editor saw it
hat a display the Mr LSE contest turned out to be. A carnivalesque atmosphere greeted the start of the event with the babbling introductions from dear Ed Healy and Tom Jackson, both suitably clad in dashing tuxedos. On the stage sat the salivating pack of female judges: Hannah Davies, Clare Pickering, Effy Osoba, Astrid Brown, and Lea Deranyigalalalal alalalalalalalalalala. Spectators swelled with excitement as the first round commenced; contestants were brought on stage to state an interesting fact about themselves and then show their manliness by downing a pint. The party ended before it had even began for Sam Keeping, as he was ruthlessly eliminated for not wearing a suit alongside some Russian guy who was stupidly wearing trainers. When asked to comment about his cataclysmic fall from grace, Sam said ‘perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, I approached the contest with the wrong attitude. My lack of preparation, twinned with the magnitude of the occasion, cajoled me into taking a brash arrogant stance that I now sorely regret.’ The most intriguing display of just how malleable the male ego can be, came next, in the individual talent round. James Heath electrified the audience as he slowly began unbuttoning his shirt. ‘Would you go to bed with me?’ was booming out from the DJ box, as he danced around the stage, trumpet in hand and mouth. An spectacularly un-amped clarinet solo also emanated from Dan Fountain. The audience couldn’t contain their excitement. But footballer Russ Banfi showed him how it was done, with some beautiful singing and guitar playing, showing why he was almost offered a place in the stars as a member of McFly. Sadly addiction proved his undoing, Fray Bentos just makes those pies so well. Geordie rugby player Matthew Box gave it his all by ‘singing’ a northern
hymn, but the crowd remained flummoxed, as a translator wasn’t readily available. Rob Fenton’s well-rehearsed and scarily good lap dancing of Keelin Gavaghan stole the show for me, but failed to win the judge’s hearts, as he was the next to be shown the door. The swimsuit round was definitely what the audience had been waiting for. This was the chance for so many sex starved students to see who was smuggling the peanuts. There was more definition than a charcoal sketch much to the audiences delight. By the last round the field had been reduced to rugby stud Rees Sutton, footy 3rd team’s resident nice-guy Russ Banfi, and somehow Matthew Box. Now it was time for the plank-off. A test of all three’s physical and mental strength, Boca was the first to go as he folded like a cardboard box. The rotund Banfi did his best but just couldn’t halt the indefatigable Sutton. Cheered on by girlfriend/pushy mother Tania Barnes, he was rightly crowned as the king of the swingers. Well done sir.
23 The Beaver | 10 February 2009
Federer: Still the Greatest of all time? Weilong Liang
year ago I would have had no hesitation in hailing Roger Federer as the greatest tennis player of all time. But merely a year later three Grand Slam final defeats to Rafael Nadal has left Roger Federer struggling to come to terms with the loss of his Number One status, his cherished Wimbledon title and his superiority over Nadal on hard courts. Even some of Federer’s most loyal fans are beginning to doubt that he is the greatest, despite the fact that he holds the open era record for the longest unbeaten run on grass and hard courts. Let’s also not forget that he is the first man to win two Grand Slams (US and Wimbledon) five times in a row. He will break Ivan Lendl’s record of nineteen Grand Slam final appearances, and it is inconceivable that he won’t add at least two more Grand Slams to surpass the fourteen won by Pete Sampras. Federer himself would probably admit that he needs to win the French Open to cement his reputation as the best ever. But on his worst surface Federer will find it exceedingly tough to beat Nadal, who has never lost a match at Roland Garros. Some would need to see Federer surpass Sampras’ record of seven Wimbledon victories before labelling him as the best ever. This is achievable, as long as his service game and net play is strong when he comes up against Nadal. As someone who has been roundly entertained by his flamboyant strokemaking I need no convincing that Roger Federer is the greatest tennis player of all time, but in order to win over the sceptics he must bounce back from the setbacks of last year and overcome Rafael Nadal.
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Philosophical Barry is on Sabbatical. He’ll be back next week to provide his own unique insight into the sporting world.
Reaching for the stars. Roger Federer lets one rip. Photo from Flickr user eugene.
Celts blend sports with societies Sam Tempest Keeping partook in a glorious Celtic scrumdown of a party
he Celtic Society’s event of the year was held last Sunday as the Scotland v Wales RBS Six Nations match was contested at a raucous Murrayfield. Christened the ‘Ruck N Roll’ party, a select group of fervent nationalists (the good type) attended to cheer on their respective countries of origin. Tempers were briefly raised as a leek, a symbol synonymous with the Welsh people, was found butchered in a nearby classroom, which the Welsh contingent construed as an attack on their cultural heritage. Fortunately the situation was defused after the revelation that the offending vegetable was in fact just left over from a Chinese Food Society party from the previous night. A cache of sheep’s stomachs was subsequently released intact. While the party raged regardless, the game itself was full of excitement and controversy. After running face first into the shoulder of Martin Williams, a man whose nickname is ‘Nugget’, perhaps due to being almost as hard as gold, Simon Webster managed to render himself comatose without using the standard Scots method of deep-fried Mars bars and whisky. This summed up how committed both sides were in chasing victory in their opening fixture despite finding themselves in vastly different circumstances prior to kick off. After last year’s Grand Slam, the Welsh were looking to show the mettle of their championship credentials, a feat they tackled with aplomb. Despite a valiant late rally from the Scots, providing a glimmer of hope for beleaguered coach Frank Hadden and his players who came into the tournament under the normal burden of inflated national expectation, the Welsh were always in control after an eight-minute first half barrage where they scored two tries. The Scots will have to improve drastically if they are to gain anything from next week’s trip to Paris in order to revive their ever fading hopes of tournament success.
There’s more than one kind of beaver you could be working on
Photo from Beth Harrison Celtic Society Treasurer Ciaran Deeny was pleased with how the event unfolded as students both Welsh and Scottish, past and present, nationalist and neutral enjoyed the selection of drinks and nibbles as well as the main event. Speaking through an interpreter due to his indecipherable Irish accent he said: “It was a grand day. Things started off a bit hairy but hey, who doesn’t like a bit of a scrap to get the blood pumping?”. Looking forward to the society’s planned trip to Cardiff to watch the Wales v Ireland Game on 21 March, he said: “Aye, we’ll see how good these boys are when they got Drico (Brian O’Driscoll) staring them in the face. Man’s a legend, I tell ye”. If anyone would like any more information on this trip then please e-mail email@example.com by the 1 March. Judging by this shindig, its not to be missed.
Photo from Sam Tempest Keeping
f things generally get easier with time then we’re really doing something drastically wrong here at Gambler’s Anon. We started this little tipster piece nigh on ten weeks ago but have yet to really grasp the subtle art of gambling. In the hope of reviving our fortunes we have decided to follow the lead of president Obama and take a new direction; Greyhound racing. One of the team was this week was talking about how he grew up with a pair of beloved deerhounds by his side. Hounds are renowned as companions and here are some other interesting facts about the greyhound in particular: -In the Odyssey, Homer wrote of Odysseus’ loyal dog Argus, who turned out to be a greyhound. -When running greyhounds spend 80% of their time in the air, much the same as a cheetah does. -If your greyhound is especially loving, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. They have bigger hearts than most other canine breeds. -Greyhounds are one of the oldest breeds of dog, their images appearing in paintings from as far back as 8,000 years ago. With all this in mind we are going to place £5 on the fantastically named Soviet Maldini in the Irish Derby at 49/1. Perhaps he’ll show the steel of the left, both the communists and the AC Milan full back. Finally we will place £7.50 each on Mustang Garcia in the Gorton Cup at 4/1 and Wise Thought in the English Derby at 22/1. Fingers crossed they’ll all turn out to be this man’s best friend.
The Beaver | 10 February 2009
We have a winner! << Monsieur LSE, page 22
Pool Club in at the deep end Chris Gully reports on the pool team’s clash with the might Cambridge
ool took another step to becoming the premier sport of the LSE Athletics Union as the first and second teams entered into a practice match against Cambridge University on Sunday 1 February. This was the first and final practice match in anticipation of the British University Championships starting 19 February. The LSE Pool club’s star has been on the rise ever since our shock success in December’s UPC National 9 Ball Championships. Despite the LSE team’s burgeoning talent being clear for all to see, Cambridge came in to the match as overwhelming favourites. Their first team had previously made it to the semi-finals of the National Championships in 2007. In addition they also as had England University Captain Robert Cork among their ranks. Cork is a show stopper to say the least (no pun intended), dominating opponents with his fluid stroke play and unerring finesse. Before the match had even begun there was a clear contrast between the two teams. Cambridge looked well turned out, dressed form head to toe in professional looking light blue uniforms, especially compared to our ‘straight out of the bed’ look. There was no question who won the battle of ‘cool’, however. LSE raced into a formidable 1-0 lead with Lee Mager, LSE captain and former Cambridge player, suffocating the life out of Cambridge’s other Robert with his excessively tactical play. Unfortunately our early good luck managed to turn against us as a number of scrappy frames went Cambridge’s way. A bodacious break and dish (for those unfamiliar with Pool jargon, this is when you clear all your balls from the break without any misses) from yours truly along with some Mager magic managed to keep things close for a time but we appeared to merely be prolonging the inevitable. As the England captain turned up, having been held up by his girlfriend’s birthday, Cambridge had managed to build an insurmountable lead. The match was now just a case of seeing whether we could hold our own against one of the top players in the country. Cue the advent of what some might term a miracle. All four first team mem-
Mother Nature - 1 LSE - 0
Love Struck What with campus tensions running high after the Occupation, the cold snow shepherding in feelings of woe and essay and dissertation deadlines fast approaching, we thought it would be nice if we did something to help boost the dwindling love levels here at the LSE. So Beaver Sports has decided to run our very own love struck service for the next two weeks, the format is simple: send us you messages of romance lost and we’ll do our best to reunite you with that special someone. Just drop us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We kissed at the carol and my heart sizzled like a chicken wing. Your secret blend of spices has me hooked, I yearn to wake up to the smell of eggs and bacon. Love the colonel.
bers, Lee, Alpesh, Robert and Martin all managed to score victories over our country’s finest. Too little too late perhaps, but we were having a great time putting the England man to shame. It all boiled down to whether I could pull of one more victory giving us a much coveted white wash of an England captain. Alas, I lost. And badly at that, feeling the full wrath of a wounded ego. My extensive experience in handling long and large instruments was no match for his forceful potting in every hole. All in all though we were an extremely happy team, the first to come within 3 frames of the men from the Bridge. No
...the first team to come within 3 frames of the men from the Bridge.
The pool club posse: Robert Li, Martin Rydland, and Lee Mager show off their long, thin implements. mean feat considering the wealth of World Rules experience within the Cambridge camp compared to our own limited exposure to the game. Our second team held their own too, meaning everything is healthy within LSE Pool in the run up to the impending BUCS Championship.
Keep up with your pool stats 1st Teams Player Stats
2nd Teams Player Stats
Win % 80%
Win % 100%
We got talking at Boom (one of the first nights of freshers week), I was sitting in the corner. You were from Devon (i think), were studying Social Policy and Criminology and your dream was to become a pirate! I liked cats (better than dogs) and didn’t have a mobile phone. Would love to meet up again.
I was the tall blonde guy, sexy bit of stubble, open collar pink shirt and a suit (ralph lauren) - you were wearing a sexy black dress with blue and green fabric cupping your (ample) cleavage. Small, dark hair, I think you’re women’s rugby - but inbreeding doesn’t put me off too much ;). Get in touch and I will rock your world all night long x
I saw you play your clarinet last Wednesday, you blew me away. I’d like a chance to blow you back. You will always be my Mr LSE.
You were the passionate/angry girl at the UGM, my voice was drowned out by the crowd. Some might say I belong in a Zoo, cause I’m an animal if you know what I mean. Let me take you into the jungle.
You were the tall, dark one with the bulging biceps who suggested I drop by your office hour so that you could address my welfare. Expect me to drop by.
If any of these individuals happens to be you then just a drop us an email at sports@thebeaveronline. co.uk and we’ll put you straight in touch with your lost love.
Published on Feb 11, 2009